Our aim is that women have as much information, knowledge and support as possible to allow them to make informed decisions within a tough system. They will be encouraged to consider options and what is best for them as individuals, as well as the wider effects for others. Women are provided with material about rights and responsibilities, including information about health, housing, finances, immigration status, volunteering, education and work, 1-1 with a caseworker and in groups.
What we do & how to access help
Baobab advocates give confidential advice and assistance to women on immigration, health, financial and housing issues. As well as information on other projects and services, colleges and support groups. We focus on undocumented and asylum seeking women, and help newly granted refugees and settled women access established community services. We prioritise women who have been affected by gender violence and trafficking.
Our trauma informed ethos is to engage women to learn about and navigate the system in a positive way, stand in their own power and draw on supportive people and networks. Practicing advocates have years experience and are working with newly qualified advocates, we are all developing casework skills. We work with community interpreters.
Our drop in is closed due to covid, but we are making appointments at Jericho Foundation, we are taking new referrals - email for appointments info.
Our advocacy is our primary purpose, everything stems from the support and solidarity we have with women going through a difficult system.
It was initially funded by LUSH in 2017, who gave money for 6 advocates to be trained and volunteer for a year to give advice, then Big Lottery gave us funding for a year to develop and expand our advocacy to a formal drop in, in 2018, which established us firmly in the local community.
In 2019 year we continued to provide advocacy, as well as train advocates and women with Wisdom Factory and Help Refugees funding. Below we published a few summaries of information from advocacy sessions held monthly at Elmwood Church.
In 2020 we continue to get Help Refugees Funding for voluntary advocacy. During covid the number of women asking for help increased. We gained worker funds via the COVID-19 Response Fund for BME Women's Organisations. Administered by Rosa, the UK Fund for Women and Girls and having organisational support from Imkaan to grow our organisation positively. We will grow over the next year to be able to more fully response to women's needs and support volunteers. Help Refugees continue to provide funds for volunteer advocates.
The team is led by Bridget, qualified Health and Social Care BSc (Hons) graduate, with a background in Journalism. Bridget coordinated care in London, liaising with social workers to create individualised plans, aswell record keeping and organising the team. She has been an advocate with Baobab since 2016, supporting women to attend external appointments, following up cases with legal representatives and the Home Office, referring to charities, filling forms and organising meetings. In 2017 she coordinated community activities at the Kushinga Garden, in partnership with gardeners, trustees and lead coordinators. Bridget also volunteers at women with Hope, coordinating weekly meetings, social outings and debriefing to the team.
Espoir, Loraine, Rani, Shalom, Hannan and Talha advocate with women, they and been on various trainings including ASAP courses, PAP DPG Law Training, Safeguarding Adults Level 2, Gender and Trauma Informed Approaches to Housing and Homelessness, Tactic Legal training and are using their skills and initiative to support others, while gaining more experience and knowledge. Former advocate Gimbi has moved to engage in different forums, staying connected to women with campaigns and social activities. Jabeen is studying further as a teacher and Saku is focusing on her legal qualifications. We know they will both be amazing once they get back in the classroom and court room. Saku is running art sessions with women to improve their well being and we have dreamed of developing a cv writing job club project once Jabeen can help women learn. Hanieh moved to London.
Orit, Gulla & Muna are interpreters who support advocates. Gaja and Rakinder are a university students who help advocates research, edit emails and draft letters as needed.
Hilary, retired GP supports women with health problems, seeing them for a discussion about what's needed, and communicating with their GP's.
Barrow Cadbury & National Lottery Community COVID Support Fund
During Covid-19 we had to adapt our services to engage safely with women and reduce infection. This meant more phone and follow up appointments done. We also got an office as our drop in had to close. Thanks to Barrow Cadbury and the we have computers to work on the the office, as well as phones and topup credit for advocates.