Whispers of Hope

21 November 2019

 Whispers of Hope – Avan House

In response to the Pope’s call to welcome and protect all refugees and migrants and our 2018 Chapter Vision Statement to follow the inspiration of Catherine McAuley to be re-awakened to our Mercy call, the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy has given a donation to Whispers of Hope to enable the establishment of a Hosting Community supporting destitute women who are experiencing or fleeing from domestic abuse, or sexual exploitation and have the added complication of an uncertain or complex immigration status. Working in collaboration with Whispers of Hope, a recently established project in Stoke -on-Trent, Sr. Geraldine Sweeney RSM has moved into “Avan House”, the Hosting Community which has now welcomed it’s first guest.


 Whispers of Hope currently manage a weekly “safe space” drop-in where women can come and be supported and also offer be-friending, sign-posting to specialist organisations and advocacy support. The women are referred to the project by the Asylum Nursing team, local refugee projects and the local
police.
Avan House seeks to provide safe shelter to women with no recourse to public funds as they are supported to find solutions to their immigration difficulties. It follows very much in the steps of Catherine as she welcomed destitute women into her home when she opened her first House of Mercy.

 

Fr. Paul McNally, the parish priest of Holy Trinity Church, Newcastle-under-Lyme blessed Avan House on Tuesday 5th November. It was a lovely occasion and some of the Whispers of Hope volunteers were there as well as Sisters from St. Bernard’s and Coolock Communities. The following week, the house opened and welcomed its first guest.   

Many women supported by Whispers of Hope are also coping with honour based violence and if they leave their husbands, they often face cutting off all ties with their families. Staffordshire Police have visited Avan House and say that such a place is desperately needed as there are no places available to provide shelter for women who are unable to access public funds.

Collaborating with projects which share Mercy values will enable Mercy to continue well into the future. Please keep Whispers of Hope in your prayers, especially the women and children they support.