First house of Mercy Baggot Street Dublin Women at the well, Birkenhead Street, London
The first House of Mercy opened in Baggott St. Dublin on 24th Sept. 1827.
It was destined to become the first Convent of Mercy and the springboard for a worldwide ministry of mercy and compassion.
The latest House of Mercy, opened in England, on 24th Sept. 2007 by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’ Connor, was "women@thewell.”It was a fitting 180th anniversary memorial to Catherine McAuley foundress of the Sisters of Mercy.
womenat the well is an innovative women-only charity, which provides services to vulnerable women trapped in multiple cycles of abuse and social exclusion. Women, caught up in the many facets of pavement culture (homelessness, prostitution, drugs, alcohol, violence, physical and mental ill health), are often kept locked into chaos by the complexity of services. Services are provided for women by women in a supportiveenvironment with the goals of diverting them from the criminal justice system and working towards meaningful and rewarding social participation
What is behind the name?
Gospel inspired compassion is the essence of our ministry see Jn. 4:7-41. We follow the example of Jesus and Catherine McAuley in treating all who come to us with love and respect. Our first priority is that women find here a well of peace and friendship - stress-free and non judgemental.
Services are provided for women by women in a supportive environment.
We work hard to build trust, to restore a women’s respect for herself and appreciation of her innate goodness and self worth. This woman-centred approach acknowledges that women have a wide variety of skills, which they pass on. Shared activities provide opportunity for skill exchange along with discussion and support; together these enable personal validation. Women are delighted to discover they have skills and talents they never knew they possessed and truly relish the praise and affirmation these gifts earn.
How do we operate?
We have seven salaried staff and a good number of diversely gifted volunteers. Many of these are women religious who give generously of their time and talents during the day. We are also blessed with many talented professionals who come to our Wednesday late night drop in after their day’s work. They offer legal advice, massage, acupuncture, reflexology, guitar tuition, counselling, T’ai Chi and a range of other services.
We work in partnership with other charities and organisations who share our aims and ideals. We can offer a platform for their work in psychotherapy, counselling for drug and alcohol addiction, and related mental health issues through offering a number of small consulting rooms and larger rooms, if required i.e. for group music therapy, courses and information sharing. We also network with other services so that many of the women’s needs may be met on one site. We build good relationships with Camden Street Team, local police and various branches of social services.
women@thewell operates a needs led proactive approach to providing services. We continue to successfully enable women with long term histories of street activity to obtain and maintain accommodation, often through paying for bed and breakfast hotels to bridge the gap until benefits and drugs scripts can be sorted out and other more appropriate accommodation becomes available. This proves to be very effective for women who have a long history of street homelessness, those who have been living in crack houses, those with severe and enduring mental ill-health and those released from prison to the streets. By getting chaotic women off the street and beginning to stabilise them whilst their benefits, drug scripts, mental ill health, supported accommodation etc are being sorted out, certainly reduces their street activity and hence diverts them from involvement in the criminal justice system.
women@thewell is available on a drop-in and planned basis to encourage and support women to:
• Determine their own problems and identify the support and services they require
• Access practical and emotional support within their own timescales and constraints
• Actively participate in the project