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‘Women in the Shadows,’ the new Lent Course from The Clewer Initiative, is fresh, hard-hitting and empowering. At the heart of the course are five mini-films which include haunting survivor stories, dramatised by actresses, and expert interviews.
Each week, the course will concentrate on a different forms of modern slavery facing women and girls in the UK today. Participants will learn more about how sexual exploitation, forced labour and county lines drug smuggling can flourish in society and what can be done to combat it and support victims when they escape entrapment.
Through honest discussion and reflection, we aim to expose misunderstanding surrounding these sensitive subjects, meditate on God’s heart for the poor and marginalised and consider our response.
Our hope is that many churches and communities will use the films and devotional material as their focus for Lent this year.
In light of the latest lockdown, the ability to run a Lent Course online is key. The Women in the Shadows course will contain everything a church needs to run a successful online course and will require no extra preparation. The mini-films will kick off each session and be followed by a guided Bible study, reflection and prayer in an accompanying devotional booklet.
Bishop Alastair Redfern, founder of The Clewer Initiative, explains: “Women in the Shadows has been a wonderful collaboration. In December, we gathered nine frontline workers in two different locations and talked to them about their experience of working with marginalised women. Each interviewee has a personal testimony of how they have come to join the fight against modern slavery and all are involved in different ways.
“In addition, we auditioned and selected actresses to dramatise the survivor stories and acclaimed writer, April De Angelis researched and wrote four beautiful scripts for us. Finally, the devotional material, that is central to the Lent Course, has been written by a range of clergy friends, all deeply committed to combating modern slavery in their dioceses. It will help participants process, reflect and apply the lessons from the mini-films to their own context.
“We are excited about the potential of hundreds of churches across the country using this material to deepen their understanding of the plight of marginalised women. We are extremely thankful to everyone who has helped bring this course to fruition and we pray that God would use it to awaken our hearts to the suffering of others and stir us to reach out to more women in the shadows.”
The mini-films include compelling interviews with Jen Baines (GLAA), Louise Hulland (author and campaigner), Sister Lynda Dearlove (women@thewell), Rosie Hopley (Beloved), Alison Logier (Hestia), Karen Anstiss (Caritas Bakhita House), Shayne Tyler (Fresca Group), Clive Davies (Chief Superintendent, East Surrey Police), Jackie Mouradian (Mosaic Creative) and Bishop Alastair Redfern.
The devotional material has been written by Bishop Alastair Redfern, Rev Edwina Fennemore, Rev Caroline Pinchbeck, Bishop Simon Burton-Jones and Canon Jane Brooke.
Interwoven throughout the course, is the story of Harriet Monsell, the first leader of the Clewer sisters. She worked with marginalised young women who found themselves homeless and drawn into the sex trade. By learning more of her story, we hope that it will stimulate fresh action and renewed conviction.