‘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
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.