Last Wednesday, 8th March, was International Women's Day.
Over the past year we have seen a huge increase in the number of women using our services. They now account for approximately one third of those coming in search of practical help (along with one third men and one third children) and our classes, once very male dominated, are more and more equally balanced.
Asylum-seeking and refugee women are often extremely vulnerable as they struggle to adapt to an alien culture, but International Women’s Day is not only about recognising and trying to combat suffering and prejudice, it is also about celebrating.
And there is much to celebrate.
These women are determined and ambitious. They are loving and compassionate. They are strong and resilient.
The hands pictured here are those of some of the women who walked through our doors on International Women’s Day: volunteers, those who came for practical provision, and ESOL students.
These are those of all ages and all abilities, those who have different cultures, religions, languages, experiences, fears, hopes and dreams.
These are those from all around the world and from just around the corner.
These are those who have lived in Birmingham all their lives alongside those who are just tentatively beginning to call this city home; those who will stay as well as those who are just passing through.
These are those who we want to celebrate, recalling that each of them is a human being, worthy of dignity; valuable and beloved just as they are.