Holloway charity supporting traumatised asylum seekers given grant to expand as demand soars

Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile (BCYSE) helps traumatised asylum seekers.

Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile (BCYSE) helps traumatised asylum seekers. - Credit: Archant

A charity supporting traumatised asylum seekers has been given £120,000 to cope with a huge increase in demand.

Through its specialist rehab programme, Holloway’s Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile (BCSYE) works to rebuild the mental health and wellbeing of some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised youngsters in the country.

Many have been raised in war zones and experienced horrific trauma, or have been trafficked to the UK and been exploited criminally or sexually. Most have post-traumatic stress disorder.

With referrals from overstretched councils and health chiefs soaring, the charity is running at capacity, helping 115 people a year.

Now, it has been given £123,000 by the City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable arm, to both improve the service and help it expand.

That means more people will be able to get the support offered to people like Malaika.

Malaika’s mother died when she was very young and she was terrorized within her family, being used as a servant. She then ran away and made a long and harrowing journey into exile.

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Malaika was referred to Baobab and started attending weekly psychotherapy sessions as well as group psychotherapy and practical support.

Slowly she learned to manage her symptoms, build her resilience and gain self-confidence, and is now at university.

“I always think about my mother,” she said. “She should be the one to advise me, but she is not here. So now it’s my therapist. When I am stuck I always come to her.

“I talk to my therapist about why people behave as they do. It’s changed me. I have more choices about how to react. At Baobab you listen to and respect each other, knowing that the people in the community are there for you.”

Baobab director Sheila Melzak added: “All the young people who are referred have complex mental health problems. They all arrived in the UK alone with no family networks. We are receiving more and more referrals from overstretched statutory services and are at capacity. The grant will enable us to provide more psychotherapy.”

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