Umeed-Hope Wellbeing Spaces in Southall
For four hours on Wednesdays at St George’s church in Southall you’ll hear a happy hubbub in several languages.
There’ll probably be music … sometimes reggae, bhangra or often Oasis. There could be karaoke, a seasonal quiz or candle-making.
An informal queue will be waiting to speak with Rozeena, to ask for a letter to be read, an appointment made, a benefit decision clarified.
There will be a 45-minute gentle cardio exercise session.
Tea, coffee and snacks follow, or often a light meal provided by a kind church member.
Time for reflection
Towards the end of the session you’ll hear: “what’s our letter this week?”
We’ve reached ‘E’, so suggestions of ways of wellbeing according to that letter are called out:
…and finally ‘Eddie’ and everyone laughs and claps in agreement as the well-loved church member who started and runs the group banters with those nearby!
Photo Credit: Alex Sturrock
Then some of the group move into a side chapel, for a quiet time of prayer.
We watch a short video by Ruth Rice from her book ‘A-Z of Wellbeing’ focussing on ‘E for Emptiness’, discuss our own experiences of emptiness and need for filling with God’s spirit, and pray together and for each other.
Blossoming and Hope
The group started at St John’s Church as lockdown eased, and it blossomed right from the outset.
Members from a previously closed centre mixing well with people we invited from the church’s food-hub and other community ministries, as well as members from the Sunday and informal Table congregations, who came both to volunteer and participate.
The name arose from the group themselves: Umeed means hope in Urdu.
Flexibility of the group has been vital: St George’s, the neighbouring parish, had been keen to start a coffee-morning to complement their pastoral outreach, so Eddie asked for support, and a second location was added.
Photo Credits: Alex Sturrock
This winter we applied for Local Authority funding to become a Warm Space, and now open for additional hours, welcoming those just needing a heated, hospitable place to sit, including some who are homeless.
As the weather is improving we have some outings planned, and a knitting social-enterprise business has been suggested.
We have also recently joined up to become part of the Renew Wellbeing family, enabling access to additional ideas, support and networking.
Jesus is Among Us
At these Umeed–Hope spaces, I am certain Jesus is amongst us and the slow, gentle work of transformation and healing of lives and hearts is occurring, as those who come along are drawn together into a beautiful community to care and support of each other, and people from many backgrounds ask for prayer.
Together we are finding umeed – hope.