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.
All incoming queries or calls are dealt with by Community Advocates. We take basic details and ask what help/assistance is required. Assessing the issue and either referring the matter internally or signposting it to another organisation. All queries and calls are taken on Wednesdays only, either on the phone or in person at our drop in (term Time only) between 10AM-1PM.
Community advocates working with us include Bridget, Mireille, Amandas & Sarah, 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. Hilary, retired GP supports women with health problems, seeing them for a discussion about what's needed, and communicating with their GP's.
Orit, Hannan, Hanieh Aida & Muna are interpreters who support advocates.
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 we are all developing casework skills. We work with community and professional interpreters.
Appointments are at Jericho Foundation.
Due to us working at capacity, and desire to work effectively, we are mainly signposting new cases to other organisations for help, taking only a limited caseload ourselves.
Financial Resilience Advocacy
One group we have recently seen a large increase in requests for help include women who have been granted residence in the UK within the last 1-2-3 years, they need support with applying for benefits, and finding work, as well as setting up utilities and getting grants for their new homes.
We gained funding from the Women's Thrive Fund to pay a specialist advocacy worker, who is Bridget Obi, a experienced and effective advocate who previously managed the community advocacy program and volunteers before funding streams changed.
This project will assist around 100 women over the year with benefits including council tax, housing benefit, child benefit and universal credit. She will raise awareness of job, skill and volunteer opportunities, and well as provide advice on utilities and grants. Instead of being a 'caseworker' doing all the work for women, the specialist worker will empower beneficiaries to understand how to address the problems themselves, mentoring them to take control of the work they can. This will take longer but we hope this approach will allow women to become skilled as their own advocates making them financially resilient.
The project links casework knowledge and support to women through interpreters, being with them to make phone calls, writing self help guides in different languages and promoting self help guides written by citizens advice (benefits) or Shelter (housing) for example.
Self Help information below:
Community Advocacy Development
Empowerment and 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 continued to get Help Refugees (now Choose Love) 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 had organisational support from Imkaan to grow our organisation positively. We grew over the year to be able to more fully response to women's needs and support volunteers. This funding ended October 2021, and we are currently back to being a volunteer advocacy project.
Legal training Videos for Women
Legal training is important for women who are going through the asylum process. So they understand the process and the legal steps that take place. Sue Conlin from TACTIC has delivered these training sessions and we have published them on our You Tube channel.
Educating women on the process and preparing them for questions which may seem daunting is very important. Providing these legal training guides and PDFs will empower and educate more women on the steps they have to take.
Links to videos:
Tactic Training Preliminary Interview Questionaire (PIQ) 22 9 23 https://youtu.be/1_EmKaIttZA?si=LU_o2lRjxXn37clx
Tactic Training Screening and Substantive Interviews 21.9.23 https://youtu.be/Ci0sX2yF6yw?si=HZVHiLjCgFczfdY6
TACTIC Legal Training 20 Day Questionaire
PDF Training Handout