Project MAMA is a charitable organisation launched in March 2018 that offers a free, confidential and individual-focused support. Having spent the past few years working with asylum-seeking survivors of human trafficking, founder Fiona Mann became aware that most of the women she worked with had experienced sexual exploitation or violence, resulting in pregnancy. Women seeking asylum in the UK frequently give birth in hospital on their own, with little understanding of the maternity process in the UK and no support networks around them. Thus, Project MAMA was set up to respond to the need for women to have solidarity and support through their journey to motherhood.
We support women refugees, asylum-seekers, those with uncertain immigration status and survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking. We are focusing on this demographic because of the extreme difficulty women can have accessing the NHS, the language barriers they are facing and the extreme social isolation they experience.
Project MAMA is a hive of midwives, activists, doulas and birth companions as part of a peer network of skills, support and solidarity for these women and their children.
What do we do?
Project MAMA’s ethos is to encourage independence and resilience in women by providing a safe and nurturing space. We aim to promote women’s choices, enable access to peer support and to promote an understanding of a a woman’s rights and entitlements surrounding maternity healthcare.
Project MAMA offers two programs of support. These are:
Project MAMA matches peer support Mother Companions (MC’s) with pregnant women who otherwise lack a birth partner. Women therefore have one-to-one support ensuring companionship and a nurturing presence during this challenging time.
Women are assigned two dedicated volunteer Mother Companions (MC’s) with a doula or midwifery background, experienced in working with women from migrant populations. MC’s will provide the space and support to encourage women to empower themselves, equipping her with the tools to understand her pregnancy, the NHS system of healthcare and her rights and entitlements so she can make informed birth choices. MC’s provide an emotionally supportive space to un-pack ideas, concerns and wishes along with robust antenatal support exploring comfort measures and exercises that promote a positive labour and birth.
During a woman’s labour, MC’s will be by her side for the duration, offering emotional, practical and advocacy support and MC’s continue to be present in the following weeks after childbirth to ensure both mother and baby are thriving.
Bumps & Babes Without Borders
Women are invited to attend Three B’s – Bumps and Babes without Borders. Our hub is for expectant and new mamas for support throughout pregnancy until baby is a year old. Three B’s is a place that promotes solidarity and support for mamas and their babes to come socialise with other mamas, share birth stories and talk through your pregnancy journey with others.
To ensure mamas are able to access the service, we reimburse travel costs.
Every week we have different activities available such as:
- Infant feeding & sleep support
- Pregnancy group
- Guidance on being a new mama
- Pregnancy & baby yoga
- Pregnancy & baby massage
- Relaxation sessions
- Crafting items for baby and you
- Complimentary herbal remedies
- Mama nurture sessions
- Perhaps most importantly, tea and cake!
There is no need to refer into the project, please just come along every Friday from 12pm – 3pm
at Salvation Army Citadel, 6 Ashley Rd, Bristol BS6 5NL.
Why we need to do this
The trauma women experience on their journey to the UK and often once they have arrived can cause many to suffer from extreme mental health issues. Additionally these women often have no family members or community around them during pregnancy, labour and the crucial weeks after birth. This can be a terrifying and lonely experience.
Women who are seeking asylum and have uncertain immigration status have difficulties in accessing healthcare in the UK. As such, these women are three times more likely to die in childbirth and four times more likely to suffer postnatal depression than other women in the UK. Their babies are more likely to be stillborn or born prematurely, to have a low birth weight, or to have birth defects.
(Source: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, 2015).
Furthermore, two thirds of women refugees are the survivors of sexual assault as a direct result of forced migration, of which pregnancy can be a consequence.
(Source: Reproductive Health Matters, 2015)
Project MAMA address’ these issues and bridge this gap so women will have the support they need during the maternity period. Project MAMA provides crucial antenatal, birth and postnatal support to asylum-seekers and refugees in Bristol.
Who are we?
Fiona Mann – Founder & Coordinator
Louise Mensah – Donations Coordinator
Dr Loubaba Mamluk – Trustee
Jenny Joseph – Chair of Trustees
Amy Garrett – Trustee
Amy studied Antenatal Education with the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) and then went on to
train as a Doula and is a recognised birth doula with Doula UK. She has a background in marketing and sales for social housing projects and has completed voluntary placements for a number of Bristol based charities.
Rebecca Vincent – Associate Trustee
…last but not least, our Mother Companions!
Project MAMA would not exist without the hard, dedicated and compassionate work of Peggy, Alison, Amy, Jay, Suyai, Wendy, Claire, Ceri and Grace. THANK YOU! xx