Renew, a safe place to not be ok in the Isle of Man

Peel Methodist Church in the Isle of Man Methodist District is the home of Renew, a space providing support and peace for people who want to care for their mental wellbeing.

Around 25 people attend each week, knitting, chatting, praying, playing jigsaws or just being quiet together. “It’s great, I come here every week. It takes me about forty minutes by bus but it’s worth it,” says one attendee. Most people come along regularly. Renew is open for all. Even for just one casual visit, everyone is welcomed with open arms and a cup of tea.

Sara started Renew in 2022, having been inspired by the national charity Renew Wellbeing. “I had the feeling that God was encouraging me to get involved in wellbeing. My own experience in taking care of my mental health allowed me to start supporting people when they are struggling,” she remembers.

"I shared this idea with her of working around wellbeing and she immediately said it was the calling she had been waiting for.”

“One summer afternoon, I was walking on Peel promenade when I saw a friend. I had a real need to go and talk to her and we agreed to meet for coffee. I shared this idea with her of working around wellbeing and she immediately said it was the calling she had been waiting for.”

Renew runs on three principles; to be present for people, to be prayerful and to be in partnership with mental health experts.

The space is big with room to accommodate everyone’s activities including crafts, games or prayers. It is a free and easy place where everyone can take care of their mental health as they see fit. They can come to have peace or to open up and share their burden in a safe place.

When a previous Renew space on the Isle of Man closed, the remaining funds were donated to Peel’s Renew and Sara used it to transform the disused land at the back of the church into a community garden. “The grounds were cleared, we had some stones and gravel donated and a charity working with adults living with autism built the raised beds. We contacted Manx Wildlife Trust to understand the local, natural environment and to create a wildflower garden,” adds Sara.

They entered their community garden in Peel’s Secret Gardens, an event organised by Peel Heritage Trust where people open up their garden spaces for everyone.

Each session ends with a prayer when Sara mentions every person attending the session by their first name. It is a time to focus on one of the songs, the psalm of the week, which all Renew spaces in the UK go through.

“Praying for each other by name has become important for the people who come here. We don’t force people to participate and many want to hear their name being prayed for and be blessed. Although most of the people who come aren't churchgoers, Renew has become their church,” concludes Sara.