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


How to make a referral

Below is all the information you might need about our referral process, including the criteria that a young person must meet to make a referral.

Baobab waiting list status – Closed

Our waiting list is currently closed for new referrals, due to clinical capacity. Please get back in touch in September 2024 when we hope to reopen the list.


Before submitting a referral, please note, Baobab does not take on referrals just for Specialist Clinical Reports. Reports are only prepared by Baobab in the context of our therapeutic and psychotherapeutic work. We usually need six months to prepare a report, which would be a psychological, developmental and treatment report.

Referral Process

For all new referrers, we recommended reviewing the following criteria that a young person must meet to make a referral.

  1. Must be under the age of 24 at the time of referral. 
  2. Must be seeking asylum in the UK or have refugee status. 
  3. Must have experienced organised (state/community) and/or interpersonal violence in home country or on their journey into exile before the age of 18. 
    • Experiencing violence can include witnessing violence against community members or witnessing violence against family members, as well as directly experiencing violence themselves. 
    • Experiences may include violation, humiliation, imprisonment, or murder of parents, being forcibly recruited into rebel/government armies, being imprisoned and tortured for political activities or for the alleged activities of their parents, being trafficked for sexual or labour exploitation or crime. 
  4. Must have lost aspects of childhood and adolescent developmental experience through experiences of traumatic violence and loss (generally young people referred to our Centre function developmentally at a much more immature level than their chronological age). 
  5. Is having psychological difficulties now they are in the UK. 
  6. Can attend the Baobab Centre independently, or if not, must be accompanied by the referrer until such a time as they feel able to travel to the centre alone. 
  7. Does not need specialist psychiatric care and is not violent. 
  8. Is not currently experiencing active addiction issues.  
  9. Has agreed to participate in psychotherapy work and would like to work towards coming to understand themselves better.

If the young person you are referring meets the above criteria, we recommend contacting our Clinical Administrator, Elisa, on or call 0207 263 1301, to discuss your young person’s situation, to ensure our model of work fits with your young person’s needs. Following this discussion, a referral form will be emailed to you to be completed in full and emailed back.

Next steps

The referral form will be discussed and assessed in our bi-weekly referral meeting attended by clinicians and caseworkers at Baobab. When an assessment slot becomes available our Clinical Administrator will be in touch to suggest a date and time for the first assessment appointment.


Please note that the Baobab Centre does not take on a duty of care for the young person until the young person is formally taken on as a member of our community, until this point, clinical responsibility and duty of care resides with the referrer.

Assessment Process

The assessment process at Baobab takes place over 2–3 weeks and there are three assessment appointments in total.

All assessment appointments take place in person at Baobab’s office and are generally with two of Baobab’s clinical staff. If an interpreter is needed this will be flagged in the assessment form and Baobab will book and pay for them. 

To help assist the assessment process and ensure its smooth running, the following documents should be shared with our Clinical Administrator ahead of, or during, the first appointment:

  1. The young person’s statement and any legal documents, such as: 
    • Copies of the screening and substantive interviews with Home Office staff. 
    • Copies of any interviews with Social Services that are relevant to the asylum claim. 
    • Copies of any refusal letters from the Home Office and dates of any future appeal hearings/decisions of the judge in past appeal hearings. 
  2. The young person’s specialist reports, such as:  
    • Copies of any specialist medical/psychological reports that have been written about scarring and physical/psychological health issues.  
  3. For young people in Local Authority Care – we need a copy of the last two Pathway Plans and any Age Assessment carried out. 

The young person being referred meets with two Baobab clinicians. During the appointment the young person’s difficulties will be explored and as much of their history as they wish to share. The young person will need to be escorted to the assessment session by their Keyworker/Support Worker or other relevant professional that the young person knows and trusts. The escort will need to wait for the assessment to be completed.

The young person being referred has an opportunity to reflect on the first assessment session and to share more about their difficulties and details of their history. In this session, the young person’s wishes for therapeutic involvement will be explored and a plan agreed.

In the final assessment appointment, the clinicians will explain in more detail the ways of working at Baobab. At this point we usually try to arrange a meeting between the young person and an existing member of our community who shares their language. This is an opportunity for informal questions to be asked.

Concluding the assessment process

Following the three assessment appointments, the referral will be discussed by members of our multidisciplinary child, adolescent and young adult centred, clinical team and allocation will be made to an Individual Therapist and to a Psychotherapy Group. After the decision has been made to take on a young person, a welcome letter will be shared with the referrer and young person, confirming who the young person’s Individual Therapist is, as well as the date/time of their regular individual therapy sessions.

Individual Therapy takes place in person at Baobab’s office, on a weekly basis. It is encouraged that the logistics of the therapy sessions are discussed directly between the young person and therapist, e.g., rescheduling sessions.

(N.B. For young people who are very untrusting, traumatised, and anxious entry to a group may not take place immediately and will be reviewed every three months.)

The aim of the psychotherapy groups at Baobab are to help introduce new members to the wider community within a small therapeutic group setting. All Baobab groups have a psycho-social and developmental model of work, with an aim to help young people to begin the process of trusting others again, specifically others who share their experiences.

The group setting provides an experience of being with others in a playful, protected and safe way, geared to their emotional and functional level of understanding. The groups help young people explore ideas indirectly and at the same time begin to develop a language for their difficult feelings, memories, anxieties, fears, symptoms, worries and conflicts.

Through the work of the group the young people will learn about our holistic and integrated services and about the different activity based therapeutic groups we run. These include philosophy, music, arts based open workshop, and sports-based groups. They will also learn about psychotherapy groups and about case-work support.

Monthly Consultation Service

On the third Wednesday of every month, we hold our Baobab Consultation Service.

The meeting is an opportunity for anyone working with current or former unaccompanied asylum seekers, to meet with our Director, Sheila, and Senior Caseworker, Jodie, to discuss any challenges and problems of the work, exploring any issues in a confidential manner.  

The meeting runs from 9:30–11am, with tea/coffee and pastries provided. If you would like to attend our next consultation meeting, please email Elisa, our Clinical Administrator for details –