Staff training on the current situtation in Eritrea with Prof. Kibreab
1 Dec. 2023
Baobab Centre

Pr. Gaim Kibreab, Eritrea expert, came to provide background, political and cultural, on the situation in Eritrea today to our staff. He discussed the political situation, the National Service, why young people are leaving and the dangers they encounter both in Eritrea and in their difficult journeys into exile.
This was in many ways a very helpful conversation with our therapists in understanding the background and stories of many of the young people who come to the Baobab.

Mehdi Ben Youssef (Lawyers for Justice in Libya), to discuss the migration situation in Libya with Baobab staff
Baobab Centre
3 Nov. 2023

As part of Baobab's outreach and training efforts, Mehdi Ben Youssef, legal advisor at NGO Lawyers for Justice in Libya, came to discuss the migration situation in Libya today with members of Baobab staff. Lawyers for Justice in Libya is leading in efforts to document human rights abuses of people migrating through Libya and their participation in bringing evidence when perpetrators face justice.  Part of their work is to advocate at the EU level in order to end the EU's shameful collaboration with Libyan parties implicated in human rights abuses.
Many young people from our community have direct experiences of the appaling conditions of treatment of people on the move in Libya, of extortions from police or other parties there, brutality, and many forms of abuse. Baobab will be hoping to increase its partnership with LJL and support their documentation efforts.

Baobab Talk - "Age Assessments: in the best interests of children?"
14 June 2023
Kaplan International College London

Can the best interests of children be protected under UK asylum age assessment processes? 

The Baobab Centre organised a panel discussion on UK asylum age assessment processes, their planned evolution, and the best interests of children. 

A full recording of the event can be accessed on


Our 3 speakers included:

  • Professor Tim Cole (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health):
Prof. Cole discussed "Age assessment of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children – can it be made better?" (slides from the presentation available here)

A member of the Home Office Age Estimation Scientific Advisory Committee (AESAC), Prof. Cole discussed the recently published report on "Biological Methods to Assess Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children's Age" . Prof. Cole presented strong evidence that age assessment using scientific methods has historically been unreliable. He advocated for using his likelihood ratio that estimates the likelihood that someone's age is as claimed, or as assessed, based on the results of four different scientific tests. This method would reduce unreliability, although it does not eliminate it. The issue of consent, moreover, remains highly problematic.

Tim Cole is professor of medical statistics at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, with a longstanding interest in growth and development, including latterly age assessment, where he has in the past been critical of using x-rays.
  • Nick Lessof (NHS)
As a paediatrician, and as designated Doctor for Safeguarding Children  in North-East London ICB NHS, Nick discussed the dilemma many paediatricians face with the issue of age assessments ("Age Assessments and Paediatricians" -- slides from the presentation available here). Paediatricians, and the RCPCH, have resisted the use of ‘scientific methods’ to decide the age of a young person, and have left decision making to social workers. Is it time that they made a more positive contribution, and what should that be? Nick's experience shows age disputes are inherently a safeguarding issue and that doctors must engage with the process to hope to improve it, as flawed as it might currently be.
Nick Lessof is a paediatrician working as Designated Doctor for Safeguarding Children in North-East London, promoting the rights of children in healthcare.
  • Syd Bolton (Methoria):
Based on his long experience defending children and his advocacy practice, Syd argued that "Age dispute procedures are never in a child's best interests".  For him, the use of age dispute policies and assessment practices effectively acts as a means of exclusion from child refugee protection and care. It is neither a child nor refugee rights based approach and arguably more damaging than the harm it purports to address.

Syd Bolton is a (non-practising) solicitor and a co-founder of the UK charity Methoria. Its First Rights and Last Rights Projects focusses on legal and policy advocacy pursuing equal justice for migrant children and the promotion of the rights of bereaved migrant families and all those who have died or are missing on migrant journeys.

6 October 2022 - "Responding to the needs of people seeking refuge and asylum" - online seminar

Sheila Melzak, director of the Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile, presented on

"Coping Strategies, Defences, Resiliencies and Vulnerabilities, and Thinking about the Consequences of Mistaken Pathologizing."

at an online seminar organized by the Squiggle Foundation on 6 October 2022.

She was joined by Renos Papadopoulos, Professor in the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Director of the Centre for Trauma, Asylum and Refugees at the University of Essex, who discussed
"The tyranny of the not good enough home: complexities of involuntary dislocation"

Baobab Talk Series: The Gendered Nature of Migration Drivers
"The Gendered Nature of Migration Drivers and the Migration Decision-Making Process"
11 March 2020

Prof. Liza Schuster (City, University of London) presented analysis of the polarisastion and negociations that migration decisions create in Afghan families, based from her extensive field research in Afghanistan. 

Prof. Schuster researches different stages of the migration process, in particular the European regimes governing asylum, entry and deportation, as well as the impact of deportation on those deported and their families. An important element of her work is the role of racism as a cause and response to migration. She worked in Afghanistan, exploring how fears and perceptions about the presidential elections and the withdrawal of international forces in 2014 is affecting emigration, while finishing two manuscripts. She has also recently helped launch the Afghanistan Migration Advice Organization.

This talk is now available to listen on the following platforms:

      Spotify   Google Podcasts   Radio Public   Breaker
Referrers' Meeting
25 February 2020
The Baobab Centre, 10 Manor Gardens, London N7 6LA

We are inviting all potential referrers to a meeting with us where we will share our model of work with particularly vulnerable young asylum seekers with mental health and developmental difficulties. This will take place on 25 February, 10:30-12:30, and will be in the Training Room at 10 Manor Gardens, London N7 6LA. There will be drinks and refreshments and time to network with other referrers and plenty of time to ask questions. This meeting is for referrers only.
Please RSVP your presence by 19 February at the latest by writing to
The Baobab Centre runs as a non-residential therapeutic community and therapeutic work comes from membership of the community as well as from participation in individual and group psychotherapy, many group-based activities and accessing practical support in various areas . We’ve noticed in the past that there was some confusion among some referrers about how we work and we want you to make sure that Baobab is indeed the answer to your clients’ needs.  This meeting will be an opportunity for you to get to know more about us and for us to get to  know you better.
Baobab Talk Series: Treating trauma in former child soldiers in Democratic Republic of Congo
“Invisible children, forgotten stories: Treating trauma in former child soldiers in Democratic Republic of Congo"
2 October 2019

Dr. Katy Robjant discussed her work with former child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The talk focused on the work that Dr. Katy Robjant has been recently conducting in Democratic Republic of Congo providing psychological intervention for victims of sexual and gender based violence with the international not for profit organisation In Vivo.

Dr. Robjant is Director of Clinical Services at Freedom From Torture and Consultant Clinical Psychologist and co-Founder of Trauma Treatment International, an organization that provides psychological services to victims of organised violence and support to the organisations that care for them, anywhere in the world. She was formerly the Head of Therapy Services at the Helen Bamber Foundation. She is considered an expert in Narrative Exposure Therapy and has provided training worldwide including in the UK, Sri Lanka, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Ukraine.

This talk is now available for you to listen on the following platforms:

     Spotify     Google Podcasts     Radio Public     Breaker


Baobab Talk Series: Child Protection in the UK, 2 research projects from UNHCR

29 May 2019
Max McClellan and Lucy Gregg from the legal protection team at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in London came to talk to Baobab about their current work on child protection in the UK relating to unaccompanied and separated children. UNHCR has been funded by the EU to undertake three research projects and the talk featured presentations on two of these projects. These reports have been written also with the support of UNICEF and IOM.

Best Interests project 
Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child gives every child the right to have his or her best interests assessed and taken into account as a primary consideration in all actions or decisions that concern him or her. UNHCR has been undertaking research to review the current approach to the consideration of the best interests in unaccompanied and separated children’s cases, using an analysis of the existing child protection and asylum systems. This aimed to understand if these systems and procedures are appropriate, and whether they are accessible to unaccompanied children. An expert Advisory Group of eight professionals who have worked extensively in the UK system for many years (including lawyers, social workers, NGOs, judges and academics) advised on the content of the report.  Lucy highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the current systems and outlined proposals for alternative approaches. This research will be the first UN commissioned document which provides concrete proposals for how the principle of best interests for unaccompanied and separated children could be strengthened and implemented comprehensively within and across UK procedures.

Children’s Integration Study
This study is on the reception arrangements and early integration support of unaccompanied and separated asylum-seeking and refugee children and young people (under 23 years old) in the UK. It is based on interviews with 65 children and young people and 47 key experts (mostly frontline professionals; social workers, service managers, youth workers and foster carers). The research covers areas including the experiences of children on arrival, and in reception and orientation, transfers and resettlement to the UK, care and accommodation, education and English language learning, health and wellbeing, safeguarding and social inclusion. The research was conducted due to an increase in the numbers of unaccompanied refugee children living in the UK in recent years as well as significant changes in the policy environment.  

UNHCR is also undertaking a third study which is investigating the motivations as well as push and pull factors of children’s journeys to the UK. All three research reports will be published later this year.


Baobab Talk Series: The Plans and Hopes and Fears of Afghan Families For the Future.

Prof. Liza Schuster
13 March 2019
Based on Prof. Schuster's extensive ethnographic work in Afghanistan, the talk discussed how migration figured in Afghan families' plans, hopes and fears for the future. 
Liza researches different stages of the migration process, in particular the European regimes governing asylum, entry and deportation, as well as the impact of deportation on those deported and their families. An important element of her work is the role of racism as a cause and response to migration. She worked in Afghanistan, exploring how fears and perceptions about the presidential elections and the withdrawal of international forces in 2014 is affecting emigration, while finishing two manuscripts. She has also recently helped launch the Afghanistan Migration Advice Organization.

You can listen to the recording of the event on the following podcast platforms:
Fundraising for Baobab

We invite you to a series of entertainment benefits for The Baobab Centre For Young Survivors In Exile, a charity for young asylum seekers.).
These events will be held at the Church Hall in St Mary’s New Church, on Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 9ES.

Documentary filmmaker Kim Longinotto (Divorce Iranian Style, Sisters in Law, Rough Aunties, Dreamcatcher and many others) will be showing clips from some of her award winning films followed by Q and A in conversation with Melanie McFadyean.
Baobab Talk Series: The trouble with trafficking: protection for children on the move

A conversation around how children seeking protection are positioned in current debates on ‘trafficking’ and the implications in both policy and practical terms. Bridget  unpacked the concept of ‘trafficking’, how it is understood and who is - and is not - included in the debate on how to prevent it. Heaven Crawley focused on the difficulties experienced by children who move, but are not considered to have been ‘trafficked’, in accessing the protection to which they entitled under international refugee law, with particular reference to the issue of guardianship in Scotland.

Heaven Crawley:
Heaven Crawley is Professor of International Migration at Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations where she leads a team of researchers working on issues of migration, displacement and belonging. Heaven has served as a specialist adviser to the Home Affairs Committee and Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) on three separate occasions. She is a patron of the Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile and Asylum Justice and a Trustee of Migrant Voice. In 2012 Heaven was conferred the title of Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) in recognition of her contribution to the social sciences and to evidence-based policy making.
Bridget Anderson: Bridget Anderson is Professor of Mobilities, Migration and Citizenship at the University of Bristol. She was previously the Research Director of the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford. Her interests include citizenship, nationalism, immigration enforcement (including ‘trafficking’), and care labour. Her most recent authored book is ‘Us and Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Controls’ (OUP, 2013).  Although now an academic Bridget started her working life in the voluntary sector working with migrant domestic workers, and she has retained an interest in domestic labour and migration. She has worked closely with migrant organisations, trade unions and legal practitioners at local, national and international level.


Baobab Talk Series: ‘Exploring the challenges of the current context for young people seeking asylum’

Dr John Campbell (see biography below) gave a talk on:
'What prospect for asylum in the 21st Century'
15 November 2017.
Dr John Campbell, Reader in the Anthropology of Africa and Law is a social anthropologist at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. Dr Campbell has carried out extensive research into the British Asylum System. Between January 2007 and January 2009 he undertook a research project "Refugees and the Law: An ethnography of the British Asylum System". This sought to follow refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia who were seeking asylum in the UK. At the beginning of 2017, he published ‘Bureaucracy, Law and Dystopia in the United Kingdom's Asylum System’, based on ethnographic research over a two-year period. The book analyses numerous asylum appeals as they go through the British courts and draws on a myriad of interviews with individuals and an examination of many state and non-state organisations with a view to understanding how the asylum system in the UK works. In addition, Dr Campbell has undertaken research in Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia and the UK and development consultancy work in Ethiopia, Kenya and Botswana. He provides expert reports for Ethiopian and Eritrean asylum applicants.


Baobab Centre’s 2017 Lecture Series: ‘Resilience and Vulnerability: the Gains and Costs of Survival for Young People seeking Asylum.’

Dr Zoe Given-Wilson gave a talk on: ‘'Remembering and telling:  A psychological perspective on young asylum seekers’ testimonies.' 
5 July 2017
Zoe Given-Wilson is the child researcher for the Centre for the Study of Emotion and the Law. Her talked looked into psychological and developmental issues pertinent to decision making in young people's refugee status claims. She is a clinical psychologist and has both research and clinical experience working with children from a range of cultures and backgrounds.
Baobab Centre’s 2017 Lecture Series: ‘Resilience and Vulnerability: the Gains and Costs of Survival for Young People seeking Asylum.’

Professor Ravi Kohli gave a Baobab Talk on: ‘Working with unaccompanied asylum seeking children: some thoughts from the field’
15 March 2017
In his seminar, Professor Kohli reflected on the various ways young people seeking asylum are defined by the movements (and borders) in their lives – movements from place to place, the movements of growing up, and the psychological movements that they make to find some internalised balance in their lives. He touched upon what ‘home’ means in the context of such movements, and how they build, and can be helped to build sheltered and sustainable lives.  A PDF of the presentation can be accessed here.
Conference on Modern Child Slavery Today

3 October 2016
On 3rd Oct, we hosted together with our partners - MiCLU, ECPAT UK, The Children’s Society and The Helen Bamber Foundation - a one-day conference for front line practitioners (police; social workers; lawyers, health workers), policy officers and academics to explore the causes and consequences of trafficking on children and young people. The conference aimed to promote the development of holistic integrated interdisciplinary approaches to working with young people who have been trafficked from overseas and to stress the importance of finding durable solutions for them, increasing their protection in the present and for the future. Our young community members played an important role in voicing their experiences and in advocating for change. A film that they made for the conference can be found at: