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Fatima’s journey: supporting migrant girls in the UK

After travelling for two years by foot, train, bus, and boat through nine different countries, Fatima and her father arrived in the UK from Afghanistan. Now eleven, Fatima faces new challenges in a country thousands of miles from her home. 

The journey migrant women and girls take doesn’t end after they arrive in the UK. WONDER’s partner, the Baytree Centre, helps women and girls adjust to life in a new country.

Helping refugee girls overcome barriers and reach their full potential

WONDER partners with Baytree Centre in South London to support migrant women and girls. Baytree is an educational charity for women and girls that focuses on addressing homelessness, poor housing conditions, language barriers, trauma caused by migration, and many other obstacles hindering the success of women and girls in the United Kingdom. Baytree’s approach to providing this assistance is based on educational support programmes, social mobility mentoring, and relational and professional methods. Importantly, these approaches yield results. 

Baytree has helped over 3,600 women and girls attain educational and professional opportunities in and around London. Each woman or girl receives tailored programme support from Baytree, relying on one-on-one mentoring, emotional and professional support, and confidence building.

After spending time at Baytree, 63% of women and girls pursue further education, and 34% go directly into employment.

Baytree supports girls like Fatima so they can return to school

When Fatima was nine years old, she witnessed her mother being shot and subsequently dying. Her father decided they must leave Afghanistan in search of safety. After travelling for two years they arrived in London, and were placed in a hotel in Crystal Palace along with 500 other refugees. 

Fortunately, Baytree was working with the manager of the hotel to find women and girls who would benefit from the Into School Programme. This programme facilitates the transition of newly-arrived refugee girls into the UK education system, a task that gets exceedingly more difficult as the girls get older. The programme involves English and maths classes, sports, socialising and networking opportunities, mentorship, and cultural activities. 

Fatima was enrolled in the Into School Programme along with seven other students, where she was able to attend English and maths classes from Monday to Wednesday, with all transportation to and from Brixton funded by Baytree. She was also able to foster connections with other girls her age and with her mentors, and she started to feel less isolated in her new community. 

Like many newcomers to the UK, eventually Fatima’s temporary housing accommodation made it difficult for her to enrol in school. She was eventually relocated to North Yorkshire, where she struggled to apply to secondary schools. When informed about the challenges with enrolment, Baytree reached out to Fatima’s local council to support her application to school. Now fully enrolled in secondary school, Fatima is thriving, and happy to once again be going to school full time.

Empowering migrant women in the community

Baytree’s approach to educational integration and resources for refugee women and girls had made a huge impact on Fatima’s life and made her transition to the UK much smoother. However, girls like Fatima are not the only ones who benefit from Baytree’s programmes. 

Baytree also supports adult women who are struggling with education, wellbeing, family stability, financial management, financial management, and employability through their Social Mobility Programme. This programme provides one-on-one coaching, group sessions, and English language classes to help these women realise their full potential. The impact of these services, combined with the extensive resources available to young girls, is why our partnership with Baytree is so crucial to empowering women.

You can help us empower girls like Fatima, along with many other refugee and migrant women and girls, by making a donation this Giving Tuesday. 

Author: Sarah Finkel