Every Wednesday night just before eight, we host meetings for women’s and men’s groups. These small gatherings were started in 2013, and help encourage a greater sense of community through speaking our truth. They are a kind of group therapy where, through open and frank exchange, and in our own words, we are encouraged to voice our thoughts and feelings, hopefully helping to make them more real through expression. I spoke to group leaders Samina and Shane about what the group brings to the community.
The Men’s Group is currently being run by Shane, a resident here at New Life. The men’s group is an open, safe place for men to bring whatever they wish to, which may include family, sex, money, depression, loneliness, relationships and how they feel in regards to masculinity. The group is a free and safe space where the need to share can be addressed. Attendees can relate the speaker’s experiences to their own, and so feel less alone in their experience. ‘The space and time for insight’ is allowed, says Shane, with an emphasis upon relating from experience with a minimum of judgement. Silence between stories is encouraged in order to respect the issues raised. ‘We are there to support each other, as a ‘mini community, for the space of one hour.’ Shane describes the meetings as ‘brotherly,’ and mentions that confidentiality is key to the space. ‘Learning to speak and listen’ is central to the group, in order to recognise patterns of behaviour and cultivate respect.
The Women’s Circle was started by Ciara, a former life coach here at the foundation. The aim is to give women a safe space in which to talk about whatever was on their minds and lives. Samina has been holding the space since early 2014, hosting it in the Forest Hall, or if it’s a small gathering, in her own office in the Life Coach Building. The circle is open for the whole community, resident or volunteer alike. ‘It’s a female witnessing experience, which allows people to speak from the heart,’ says Samina. The space encourages healing and respect for the things that unite all women, but also recognises the differences. Sometimes things related to specifically being a women and the female perspective are aired, but attendees are encouraged to speak about anything they choose. A centrepiece of candles and flowers features in the heart of the space, along with music, to set the scene. The group is built on a philosophy of honest exchange, as are many of our experiences here at the foundation, to learn about ourselves by ‘receiving as much as giving.’ Triumphs are celebrated with gratitude, and suffering is shared to encourage growth and healing.
Our Women’s Circle (Forest Hall) and Men’s Group (New Life Coach Building) are run every Wednesday evening at 7.45pm.