Threads of Compassion


Threads of Compassion


Along the canals and towering buildings of Canary Wharf, a barge has become a haven for a group of vulnerable and marginalised women. Every Thursday morning, LCM Missionary Selam Abraha visits the hostel where women who have been trafficked or have fled conflict and persecution are staying and invites them to St Peter’s Barge.

The barge is a small church, about 30 pews deep and about 15 chairs wide. Books are on the side, and welcome forms are on a table near the entrance.

There, for the next hour and a half, asylum-seeking women waiting for their visa decisions find solace and friendship. Over cups of tea and coffee, these women, now part of a close-knit community, are encouraged to use the sewing machines in front of them to create something beautiful. Something that’s theirs.

"We want to create a safe and welcoming environment for women..." says Lina

“Marcus, my husband and senior pastor at St Peter’s Barge has been helping people housed at the hostel nearby and discovered that boredom was a big challenge in maintaining people’s mental health,” says Lina, who started this sewing space with Fiona, the women’s worker at that church.

“Sewing was something that I could do, and gave me a lot of pleasure,” Lina explains. “I hoped that it could give these women the same enjoyment as well while learning a new skill.”

For a time, these women find respite from their worries as they concentrate on sewing whatever they wish, a brief escape from the challenges that wait for them as they try to settle in the UK.

“We want to create a safe and welcoming environment for women seeking asylum to gather, sew, and hang out. To provide a safe space where women can concentrate on other matters and get to know each other," says Lina.

“It’s important to offer more than just practical assistance and also offer a sense of purpose and connection,” Fiona adds.

The sewing session on the barge has become a haven for some of the women who attend. Many have been waiting years for a decision on their immigration status. Unable to work or put down roots, their lives are in limbo – many may even be moved on to another part of the country at a moment’s notice.

For Fiona, watching LCM missionaries like Selam has been extraordinarily helpful to this ministry. The natural way she shares her life and the gospel has been encouraging and inspiring.

"When I come here, I feel happy and free," says Sam.*

Sam* is a Christian from Eritrea. She arrived in London three months ago after a long and dangerous journey.

“When I come here, I feel happy and free,” she says. “I am blessed to have support like this from kind people here at St Peter’s Barge. I really find it hard to stay at the hostel. The whole day inside a small room with just my worries.”

The vision for this sewing ministry is to form a supportive community where women seeking asylum feel valued, welcomed, and empowered to build new skills and relationships, all the while experiencing something of the love and compassion found in Jesus Christ.

If you or your church has a heart for ministry to people who have been displaced, please call us on 020 7234 3570 or visit We’ll be delighted to hear from you.

*Name has been changed