Mums in our Happy Baby Project have survived some of the humanity’s worst atrocities, including years of repeated physical and sexual violence, and have endured long, dangerous journeys to seek safety in the UK. All they want is to give their children a better life. A life free from violence and abuse. Sadly, as asylum seekers and refugees, these young families have never before been so unkindly viewed.
The Happy Baby Project was set up by the Helen Bamber Foundation to help mums through the most difficult of times. Starting as a small group of five scared and lonely women and children, the Happy Baby Project now welcomes more than 70 mums and their children every week. The group provides a safe, happy place for mums to meet and children to play. The importance of this cannot be underestimated, without family or friends to support them, the Happy Baby Project is the only place for many mums struggling to confront and overcome their experiences of torture and human cruelty to feel safe and make new friendships.
The Happy Baby Project also provides the opportunity for expectant and new mums, many who are living in poverty as refugees and asylum seekers, to get practical support from midwives, housing and welfare experts, support accessing important health and well-being activities including specialist yoga, English lessons and swimming sessions. The group is run entirely by dedicated volunteers.
Lilly* was 5 months pregnant when she was referred to the Happy Baby Project. Lilly had been trafficked to the UK and her pregnancy was a result of rape.
At first, Lilly was very timid, suffering low self-worth, she felt too unclean to join the women for lunch and too fat to join a yoga class. Lilly spent time with the volunteer therapist talking about her concerns and gradually began interacting with other elements of the group.
As Lilly’s pregnancy progressed, she received support from the volunteer GP who helped her understand the physical changes she was experiencing. When Lilly’s son was born, she spent a lot of time learning from two volunteers who had young children.
Lilly continues to be an active member of the community; Lilly brings food to share with the other mothers and makes a special effort to welcome the new members.
*all names are pseudonyms