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'It's nice to see the smiles on people's faces, when they have arrived so broken'

A group of asylum seeker and refugee women and children have been growing and cooking food at a Nottingham church …

A group of asylum seeker and refugee women and children have been growing and cooking food at a Nottingham church …

A group of asylum seeker and refugee women and children have been growing and cooking food at a monthly meeting at All Saints Church in Nottingham since January.
 
Members of the group are all women who are, or have been, seeking sanctuary and they come from countries such as Nigeria, Uganda, Pakistan, Iran, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Lebanon and Libya, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Gambia, Eritrea, Sudan, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
 
The session pictured right includes 21 women and 12 children. The group was initiated by the co-ordinator of the Rainbow Project, Dianne Skerrit, in partnership with Rev Christopher Harrison, vicar of All Saints, St Peter’s and St Mary’s in the city centre.

Funding is provided by the Rainbow Project on a very small budget and the building/facilities and some items have been donated by All Saints Church.
 
Dianne says: “When they meet on the first Thursday of each month they have a sub-group who have planted vegetables and herbs, and much joviality and wonder occurs due to not being able to understand why plants don't grow quickly as they would in a warmer climate, and also how the water lingers on the top. They actually hope to reap a crop, the corn looks very healthy, but an iota of faith is needed for some of the other vegetables.
 
“Each month a different person prepares and cooks a delicious meal, usually explaining the recipe and its origin. The meal begins with a prayer in which everyone joins in, the group is very diverse in many ways; it's multi-cultural /multi faith and all ages and abilities are welcome.
 
“It offers an opportunity to share stories about lives that have been left disjointed by the war, and it’s nice to see the smiles on people’s faces, when they have arrived so broken.

"Traumatic experiences have left damaged families at home and abroad … the best stories are of the welcome and appreciation the people of Nottingham have offered them, the support from the Rainbow Project and the enjoyment of this Project and All Saints group. Most women attending have a deep sense of faith and hope, which is usually their only asset ...”
 
Other experiences the women have enjoyed recently include a trip to Attenborough Nature Reserve, sponsored by Holy Trinity Church, Southwell.
 
The Rainbow Project is an Anglican project based at St Stephen’s Church Hyson Green, working across all faiths offering advocacy and support for refugees and asylum seekers.
 
Photos (taken at All Saints Church) show the group, preparing a meal, and the women planting and tending the crops.

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