Baobab is like a tunnel. Outside the tunnel you are exposed to the elements. Going through the tunnel shapes your life and gives you hope as you approach the light’.
One of Baobab’s Young Survivors

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Young persons from our Baobab community discuss their experiences of the UK asylum system and offer suggestions on how to include much-needed provisions for mental health in the asylum process in this small film made in June 2021. 

Click to listen to their insights.

...and listen to a message of hope from H., to all our community members and beyond:
"Wherever you are in life, don't give up!"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------10 Jan. 2022
"I am an optimistic person, but I feel hopeless right now."

Byline Times' Katharine Quarmby recently came to Baobab to interview young Afghans and our Director Sheila Melzak about the impact that the Taliban's threats against their families in Afghanistan is having on their lives in the UK .

She is today reporting on how some of our young people are sending all of their earnings and living in debt to make sure younger siblings are not forcefully recruited by the Taliban or their families in Afghanistan beaten up. 

"The Taliban Protection Racket" - ByLine Times

Baobab is again calling on the Government to accelerate the processing of family reunion cases and of the newly-opened Afghanistan Resettlement Scheme (still not running for people currently in Afghanistan), in the hope that our young people can achieve more peace of mind and stability in their efforts to rebuild lives in the UK with their loved ones.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------21 Dec. 2021

As the Government's Anti-Refugee Nationality and Borders Bill makes its way to the House of Lords for a critical second reading, we were thrilled and honoured to meet with Baroness Lister with 8 of Baobab young people. The Baroness listened to the personal stories of each and gave some very useful advice for Baobab to continue its influencing work. We are still fighting to get the most egregious provisions in the government's bill -- such as the distinction between refugees based on route of arrival -- dropped from the bill entirely, and language reflecting our significant concerns about mental wellbeing of refugee children included in the bill.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------2 Dec. 2021

Third meeting for our advocacy efforts, this time with Jess Phillips MP, who encouraged our young people to not hesitate and "speak truth to power". A group of our young people attended the meeting and presented their circumstances, calling for more action on the Afghan Resettlement Scheme, and for more spirited opposition to the Nationality and Borders bill to be discussed in Parliament. 

As one of the young people put it to Jess,
"we can't go to Parliament and make change but you can. You are our hope."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------30 Nov. 2021
As part of our influencing and advocacy efforts to defeat the Nationality and Bordesr Bill a group of young people from our community had a dynamic and highly motivating discussion with Lord Alf Dubs this morning. Lots of encouragement for young people to put pressure on their MPs and not give up the fight, from an exceptional,  inspirational figure... And a detailed discussion also about mental health issues, including the soon-to-be-launched report that Lord Dubs has commissioned on the patchy provisions for mental health in the UK asylum system - report to be launched on 9 Dec.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------22 Nov. 2021

Bambos Charalambous
, MP for Enfield and Shadow Minister for the Home Office, came to visit Baobab today and meet with some of our young people. Our young survivors discussed how they had been repeatedly failed by the UK asylum system and the "hostile environment", and why the Government's new Nationality and Borders Bill must be defeated. They talked how they're systematically disbelieved, about faulty age assessments, or Home Office interviews conducted in ways that re-traumatize survivors of violence. Several young people have families in Afghanistan trapped in increasingly dangerous situations, and yet the Afghan Resettlement Scheme is not open. 
Several amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill have been tabled and will be discussed when the bill goes to the Commons in December -- and we'll be bringing the voices of our young people into the debates.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------15 Nov. 2021
Baobab has produced two short briefing documents for MPs and Lords in Parliament as they debate the Government's new Nationality and Borders Bill, laying out our case for why this bill must not pass and drawing attention of all law-makers about the needs to safeguard and protect all children and young people in the UK's asylum system, and calling for significant revisions to the text.

Please read:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------22 Sept. 2021
The powerful and tragic testimonies of two Afghan young men from the Baobab community are featured in this report from ByLine Times published today 22 Sept.:
‘They Are Keeping Us Here to be Killed’: The Loyal Afghans Abandoned by Johnson’s Government – Byline Times
One young Baobab community member, reflecting on the lack of any visa route for his family now, told Katharine Quarmby of ByLine Times: "In five years they won't even exist." 
Clinical director Sheila Melzak adds: "[young Afghans at Baobab] feel helpless to protect their families and guilty that they are living in relative stability in the UK while their family members are at risk of being killed.”
All Afghan families need help now.

​-------------------------------------------------------------------------------14 Sept. 2021
Prof. Liza Schuster (City University of London) came to the Baobab Centre to discuss her recent experience of being evacuated from Kabul with our Afghan young people. Many questions were asked about family reunion -- and the long waiting times involved in family reunion applications -- as our young people have close family members, a sister, a mother, sometimes a wife and child, still in Afghanistan now fearing for their safety and their future.
A difficult, emotional, but important meeting.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------30 August 2021

2 young members of the Baobab community share their painful experiences with ITVnews journalist Ria Chatterlee. Have a look at ITV's report on how the Baobab Centre is fighting alongside unaccompanied minor asylum seekers to make the UK asylum system fairer and more humane.

The Baobab Centre is an organisation that enables child, adolescent and young adult asylum seekers who have experienced a series of overwhelming and violent events during their developmental years to thrive in exile. We work with child, adolescent and young adult asylum seekers and refugees who have experienced humiliation, violence, trafficking and violation in their home countries and/or on their often prolonged journeys into exile in the UK. Many will have been forced by adults to witness violent acts. Many are direct survivors of violence. Some have been forced to perpetrate acts of brutality themselves. Over ninety per cent of those who attend the centre arrive alone in the UK. On arrival, they are often re-traumatised by their experiences of having to navigate through complex, unfamiliar systems in which their needs are not always met.

The Baobab Centre runs as a non-residential therapeutic community because, over many years in discussion with the young people who attend, we have found that this is the best way to meet the needs of young people separated from their families, communities, culture and way of life. Every young person who attends our Centre has a key worker within our staff team. We offer a mixture of psychotherapeutic and therapeutic help. This means everybody who attends has the possibility of accessing individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, practical casework and social work support and a variety of group-based therapeutic activities, including regular music workshops, a philosophy discussion group and individual and group English classes as well as holiday projects and an annual summer therapeutic retreat.

We see the young people for as long as they wish and need to be seen. We aim to support them to think about, understand and process their vulnerabilities and to rediscover their pre-existing strengths so that they accept themselves for who they are and become able to manage their feelings, memories and thoughts. We support them to build resilience in the form of belonging and reflection, agency and flexibility, creativity and imagination as well as through the capacity to problem solve and form links with the community of exile. We aim to facilitate the process of progressive development and of trusting relationships with peers and adults. Baobab provides a transitional space between the young person’s home country and finding a place in the community of exile where they feel free to be themselves and contribute to community life.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------Septembre 2021

All in the Baobab community have grave concerns about the current Nationality and Borders (Anti-Refugee) Bill to be discussed this autumn in Parliament. Read our statement below:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------August 2021

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- May 2021

The Baobab Centre today joins the Together With Refugees campaign, a coalition of UK human rights associations that are united in calling for a fairer, more humane, and more welcoming asylum system.
The UK asylum system is broken. The government needs to scrap its current plans and  honor its obligations under the 1951 Refugee convention to offer protection and refuge to those fleeing traumatic, life-threatening violence. It needs to start listening to the stories of those who have reached the UK, by any means, in order to find hope and rebuild their lives. 
The Baobab Centre will use the opportunity of the planned debate on the Government's proposals to make sure the voices of Baobab's young refugees and asylum seekers are heard, and their interests defended.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- March 2021

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- February 2021

Visit "My World" - 
a Baobab Centre exhibition of photographs of daily life, from all our community members (February 2021).

[This page last updated 30/3/2021]