women@thewell is a new initiative, which is being set up by the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy to provide a uniquely holistic and multifaceted range of service to vulnerable women who are caught in multiple cycles of abuse and social exclusion. It will provide a creative and supportive space for vulnerable women, which based on gospel values, develops a holistic response to their needs and enables them to make choices, which will improve the quality of their lives and enable them to take their full place in society. Although the concept of women@thewell is new, it is built on 10 years experience of Sister Lynda Dearlove working with such women in the East-end of London, the majority of whom were street based commercial sex workers, who were caught up in the many other facets of pavement culture (homelessness, drugs, alcohol, violence, physical and mental ill health).
Throughout that time, through joint working, and consultation with the women Sister Lynda began to build up a clear picture of what was keeping them from making the changes that they would want / need to make in their lives to break out of the multiple cycles of chaos and abuse that they seemed to be locked into. One of the major contributing factors identified was the complexity of services (often referred to as “revolving doors”) - in which many people may be working with them on specialist issues, but nothing ever seems to come together at the right time so that they can get their lives sorted out, or every organisation that they approach sends them to another to have their needs met.
Read more information on the background of Women at the Well
women@thewell is therefore based on the learning’s of what has gone before. The hub will be a central, core “drop-in” service providing for basic needs and giving access to all other specialist advice and support services. This will be called THE WELL; it will also provide both a springboard into training and employment and a safety net for when things don’t work out.
We will continue to develop PARTNERSHIPS that provide access to:
The “WELL” was always considered to be:
If we look to Christian tradition rooted in the Gospel passage John 4 (1-42) …we meet the unnamed “WOMAN AT THE WELL”
So like the women this project would be aiming to serve, she was multiply disadvantaged and yet she is the first active apostle indicated in any of the Gospels…(although these same Gospel’s tell us that the men have been “called by name” at this stage, in contrast to this unnamed woman, little apostolic activity has been evidenced)