In 1986 two Sisters of Our Lady of Charity (OLC) set up this project reaching out to vulnerable women on the streets of Ballsall Heath area. OLC is a Catholic congregation of sisters, founded in the 17th century concerned for the women caught up in prostitution.
Anawim comes from the Aramaic word meaning the poorest, the outcast, the persecuted - those with no voice.
Today the OLC Congregation continues to provide the service of Sister Enda who heads up a councelling service and street outreach work.
There are currently ten counsellors, six of whom are trainees doing their placements with Anawim one day a week.
Anawim became an independent charity three years ago, but the Congregation retains three Sisiters on the Board of Trustees and still offers central support with budgets and accounts.
Over the last three decades the project has grown hugely and now has a team of around thirty staff including specialists in prison work and mental health work as well as many volunteers.
Sister Marie McGrogan rsm works a volunteer Chaplain. Speaking of her role Sister Marie said, " My role as a volunteer Chaplain is to be a caring and sensitive presence among many vulnerable women who use the common room at Anawim. Hospitality, for example , making sandwiches, provides the ideal setting for 'encounter' with women from different social, cultural and faith (or no faith) backgrounds. I believe, it is important for the women, especially those on their initial visits, to be 'received' into a friendly and safe space and for them to 'receive' me too; at times this requires patient waiting as building trust, for them, can be slow and painful.... When a woman arrives in the common room in a low place emotionally, anxious or fearful, a listening ear, a non-judgmental attitude, a friendly face, acceptance and assurance of confidentiality can diffuse the emotional pain at least temporarily. As Chaplain on such occasions, it is often about being in the right place at the right moment to ease that stress or emotional or spiritual pain. For me, being a Chaplain, is about 'service of the heart' as it involves compassion, and being with the women in their vulnerability. It is a privilege to be allowed access to the sacred space of these women. As a Sister of Mercy, Anawim provides me with the context to live out my own Mercy calling. For this I am grateful.