London City Mission
Working with marginalised women in Kings Cross
I don't know if this is the type of work that you can ever fully settle into, every day looks different, every week has it's different breakthroughs and challenges, every month flies by and I switch from being hugely encouraged by breakthrough and deeply saddened by the continuous cycles that these women find themselves in.
Ten months on and I can now say I am sleeping better, feeling less exhausted and more excited, envisioned and passionate about these women and the people they were created to be. However, I am aware that I'm just beginning this work and in order to still be standing in 50 years time I need to pace myself and learn how to take the highs with the lows.
Drop - in & Outreach
Sister Kay has been based in Kings Cross for 15 years (her community was set up to work with women in prostitution) and when she first came to Kings Cross she set up a drop-in for women to attend. We now hold the drop-in every Tuesday evening for the women in the area to attend and since gaining more volunteers from the church I attend, KXC, this has gone from strength to strength. The women enjoy coming to get their nails painted, take part in art lessons and creative writing and the volunteers are beginning to form stronger relationships with the women.
Over the last few months we have been looking for a permanent space for the drop-in, a space where the women feel safe and could make their own. We are temporarily in a small room in a church in Kings Cross but will be losing this soon. As Kings Cross is being redeveloped it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find space that is affordable and the right fit for the drop-in.
Over the past 10 months I have been visiting a couple of different brothels in the Kings Cross area, it was proving difficult to get into them and the women we had relationships with were not always in and so we were not always allowed in. In December I felt like God told me to take a step back from this and just be praying around the local area and do some more research until he told me to knock on the doors again. So for the past three months a small team of us have just been praying around the local area.
We are in the process of carrying out research online to find out where the local brothels are in the Kings Cross area.
Indvidual prayer, reading and support
Some of the women attend church from time to time but we have found that this is not always suitable. They love the worship time but are often not used to a long sermon so soon switch off! Therefore in the meantime they need to find a safe space to grow in their faith. We currently meet with four different women separately, but would love this number to increase.
The women lead very chaotic lifestyles and sometimes do not attend or ask us not to come in! However when they do they are very engaged in the conversation and it is incredible to discuss really challenging topics with them. They are holding lots of hurt, anger and shame but they all have incredible faith in God and what he has done for them. They are extremely inspiring to be around. We are hoping that in the future the women will be able to come together and meet as a group, which then leads on to attending church on a Sunday.
When I first began this job I was struck at how many social workers, key workers and support workers the women had. I felt out of my depth and didn't know how to give the women the right support and help without treading on anyone's toes or giving something that was already being given. I quite often went home feeling deflated and not knowing why I was in this job or what I could do to support the women, and praying didn't often feel like enough.
One evening I went home after seeing Tracey (name changed) who I had not seen for weeks. When she saw me she hid her face and through her tears said she couldn't face to be around people who cared about her so she asked me to leave. This left me feeling confused and saddened because she was in such a dark place, but somehow peaceful knowing that she knew there were people in the world that cared for her. I later found out that she had become a runner (someone who delivers the drugs from the dealer to the client) and had got herself into some very dangerous situations and places with a lot of people threatening her life. I felt helpless and just asked God to show me what to do.
I simply felt he told me to write her a letter telling her that she was loved and to write down encouraging things about the person she truthfully is- the person God created her to be. I delivered the letter to her hostel and didn't think anything of it until I saw her two weeks later. She came marching over to me with a big grin on her face and said thank you for the letter. She said no one had ever said anything like that to her and she had pinned it onto her wall and was reading it everyday!
This taught me that as Christians we have the incredible privilege of speaking truth into people's lives. Truth that encourages people and breaks through lies that they have been told for many years about themselves. It may not have changed Tracey's situation, and she may not be ready to leave this lifestyle for a very long time but as long as I do all I can to show her what God really thinks of her and what I see in her then I guess I've done my job!
· Pray for the women doing the weekly prayer and study that nothing would get in the way.
· Pray for the brothel research that we will be guided as to which doors to knock on.
· Pray that we would find a permanent space for our weekly drop-in.
· That I will feel more and more equipped to do this work and build stronger relationships with the women.
Thank you for your time in reading this and your prayers.