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Creating opportunities for women and girls in south London

Baytree Centre

Our UK partner, The Baytree Centre, is a social inclusion charity supporting women, girls and their families from across south London.

Baytree is located in Brixton and serves Coldharbour ward, which has long been the poorest ward in Lambeth and therefore one of the poorest in London. At sixty percent, it has the highest proportion of social-rented households within the borough, and the highest unemployment rate in the borough. Additionally, it has the highest proportion of dependent children in households where no adults are working.
 

As a result, Baytree often works with families who are homeless or living in vulnerable housing. The services provided by the centre prevent families from being evicted, help women know their rights, save and plan for their future, and get the financial help they are due. 
 

“Me and my husband had nothing,” said one woman who attended Baytree. “We owed three months of rent and were hungry, I am pregnant too. Baytree was quick to help not just with food, but also connecting us to local organisations and helping us communicate with our landlord, who gave us three months free rental.”
 

Coldharbour also has the highest proportion of residents hailing from ethnic minorities in the borough, with the highest number of Black Caribbean residents and the highest number of Black African residents, making it more likely for women and girls at Baytree to have faced racial discrimination. 
 

Baytree’s work brings these statistics to life. Rather than make assumptions about inequality or justice, Baytree recognizes the real consequences of social division and family breakdown, and rises to meet them. 
 

Baytree’s work throughout the pandemic

Baytree has worked hard throughout the pandemic to provide for women and their families by giving advice and connecting them with community resources such as food vouchers. This has been vital for women who are struggling with financial pressures caused by government lockdowns, the loss of work or death of a loved one. 
 

One Baytree attendee shared her story:
 

“My husband died in August 2020 of COVID, together with the immense grief and devastating sadness I felt a huge loneliness, I felt helpless, I also wanted to die. My coach organised for the local mosque to pay for the funeral and give me and the children some financial support. All the skills I have acquired in Baytree together with their friendship and material help have helped me come out of this tragedy with renewed energy to support my children and ensure the pain of loss doesn’t destroy me or my family.”
 

Baytree has also provided women and girls access to IT equipment and data, so they have been able to stay connected online and keep up with their learning.
 

Support and mentoring for girls 

Along with supporting women and their families, Baytree also offers youth mentoring, extracurricular activities, and programs for girls to develop academically, cultivate new skills, and grow confident in themselves. 
 

“During my school years, I lost five of my friends to gang crime, and I myself suffered from violence in the most terrible way,” one girl who attended Baytree told us. “Coming to Baytree gave me a safe space, gave me a family that could support the part of me I didn’t dare share at home, and gave me skills and motivation, which have led me to start a job even before finishing uni.”
 

The “Into School” program is designed specifically for girls new to the UK, who are struggling to transition into the school system. They are provided with English lessons, workshops, and assistance with applying to schools, so they can meet new people and begin to thrive in a new country.
 

One participant of this program said:
 

“My uncle enrolled me here in Baytree because I had just arrived and had no school. The Into School was very good, I improved my English a lot. The Baytree Centre supports girls by looking for opportunities for all the girls, they help us to follow our dreams and to have an easy stay in London.”
 

If you would like to support women and girls in London through the Baytree Centre, please visit our donation page.

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