26 September 2013
Giving hope to young troubled women
by Annie Carter
This project has been nominated for the 2013 Inspire awards run by Inspire magazine in partnership with us at the Evangelical Alliance.
Depression, self-harm, eating disorders, low self-esteem. Most people are familiar with these issues which are affecting young women they know. Caught in negative thinking or lacking a strong support system, many feel trapped and hopeless in their situation, unable to break the cycle of harmful emotions or move on with their lives.
Mercy Ministries UK, a national charity, runs a home for young women affected by these kinds of life-controlling issues. The home, situated near the village of Haworth in Bradford, offers a free, six-month residential programme for those between the ages of 18 and 28. Through a faith-based approach, the charity aims to support, equip and empower the women to move on from their past through learning the truth of their value and building a relationship with God.
Launched in 2006, the facility has helped dozens of young women to overcome their fears and experience freedom and restoration through a discipleship program tailored to their needs. Up to 20residents may stay at any one time and the ministry is funded entirely by donations.
Laura Ryder, corporate director of Mercy Ministries UK, said she is passionate about these young women fulfilling their potential – to see that their past doesn't have to define their future. "Our mission is to provide opportunities for women to experience God's unconditional love and transforming power," she said. "We help women build a relationship with God, to find out who they are and find their identity in Christ."
The 'Choices that Bring Change' discipleship programme includes daily praise and worship and Christian teaching, such as forgiveness. "The whole environment is that of a home," Laura said."Not an institution, hospital or prison. The women do life together, do everything in community, and we provide a safe place to let the masks come off, so that they can move forward. It's a place of peace, encouragement and freedom."
Residents are also taught life skills and are encouraged to develop healthy thinking regarding food, fitness and how they see themselves. They are involved in tasks such as food preparation or cleaning.
Megan, a woman in her 20s who participated in the programme, said that her life was turned around after her stay at the home. Having been raised in an emotionally unstable family, where several suicide attempts occurred, she once described herself as a "lost and broken young girl" and decided that life wasn't worth living. Out of desperation she applied for the programme and began a journey that changed her life.