"When I came here I thought all was lost but with the help and therapy, they helped me believe in myself again."
One of Baobab’s Young Survivors
"These young people need long term treatment. They will have been victims of violence, some of them forced to be perpetrators of violence – forced to be child soldiers."
Sheila Melzak, Clinical Director, the Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile
Photo: Mikhail Evstafiev
More than 1,000 children and adolescents arrive in the UK alone every year seeking asylum (latest HO statistics for 2012: 1,168 and for 2011:1,398). Many are fleeing violence, having experienced unimaginably painful events.
The Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile is a non-residential therapeutic community solely focused on the needs of young people who have experienced child and adolescent specific human rights abuses. Our young community members are likely to have experienced a series of overwhelming experiences, ie in their home coutries,on their journies into exile and in the UK where many find making sense of a new society and culture to be very difficult. Those we work with have experienced humiliation, perverse violence, trafficking and violation during their developmental years. Many will have been forced by adults to witness violent acts,to be victims of violence and some to perpetrate acts of extreme brutality. Most will have lost parents and extended family through separation during organized violence and through grotesque acts of violence and many will have been forced to witness the murder of parents and community members.
Such profoundly disturbing losses - of family, youth, home, emotional stability,culture and familiar social rules and ways of life - create long-lasting trauma.
The Baobab Centre works with these young people to provide a long-term, specialised service,which is holistic and integrated and offers a variety of therapeutic and practical support and advocacy at various levels. Young people can participate in individual and group psychotherapy,various arts and sports based group activities (storytelling, art, dance, music and writing workshops, a football club), holiday activities and therapeutic retreats. We hold regular community meetings where young people from communities broken by violence have the opportunity to build confidence, find their own voice and share their opinions. They are also able to experience conflicting views in a safe and open setting where there is no risk of violence. With help, shattered lives can be rebuilt and hope can be restored.