Baobab Centre for Young Survivors in Exile – Surviving violence, creating hope, rebuilding lives


About Baobab

stairs and front door entrance of a terraced building
Front door of the Baobab Centre in Holloway, London

A community of support in North London for young refugees victims of human rights abuses

The Baobab Centre is an organisation that seeks to help child, adolescent and young adult asylum seekers who have experienced overwhelming and violent events during their developmental years to thrive in exile.

The young people we work with 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 – or will be direct survivors of violence. Some will have been forced to perpetrate acts of brutality themselves. Ninety per cent of those who attend the Centre had no parental figure with them and arrived alone in the UK as minors. On arrival, they are often re‑traumatised by their experiences of having to navigate through complex, unfamiliar asylum and social care systems in which their needs are not always met.

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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, cultures and way of life. Every young person who attends our Centre has a key worker within our staff team. 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 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.

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Our book

Behind the Mask: Unknown Voices from the Baobab Centre
head and shoulders portrait of a young woman

Our short film

Interviews with young asylum seekers reflecting on their journey with Baobab
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Ade’s story

982 children were identified as victims of trafficking in the UK in 2015. This is the story of one of them…