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


Sheila Melzak

head and shoulders portrait

Baobab Director and Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist

A few words about me

I am part of a small group of clinicians and administrators who together started planning and running the Baobab Centre in March 2008. I grew up in an East European refugee community in the UK after the second world war and was always drawn towards children who had no parents and to thinking about finding robust antidotes, to the absence of involved parental care, that can be rooted in siblings and friends as well as substitute parents.

What does your role at Baobab involve?

My role has two parts. As Director of the Baobab Centre part of my role is to keep aware of everyone in the organisation, young people and their needs, staff and their needs and all the processes that keep the Baobab machine running i.e. finance, fundraising, human resources, communication, and the well being of all staff and young people in our community. To carry out this part of my role I work closely with the Baobab leadership team.

The other part of my role role is to work as a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and to hold a diverse case load, to familiarise myself with the internal emotional and developmental needs and also the external political and social context and human rights abuses in the countries of origin of the young people alongside the current migration and asylum seeking context and to prepare specialist clinical reports.

What is your desert island book or music?

My favourite book is Between Friends: The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary Mccarthy, 1949-1975. My favourite album is East meets East by Kroke Band and Nigel Kennedy and especially the Lullaby for Kamila composed by Jerzy Bawol.

What 3 words would you use to describe Baobab?

Involved. Warm. Tenacious.