About Project MAMA

Project MAMA is a registered charity 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, survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking and other displaced women. We focus 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 women and their children. Our ethos is to encourage independence and bolster resilience in women by providing a safe and nurturing space. We promote women’s choices, enable access to a hub of peer support and we promote an understanding of a a woman’s rights and entitlements surrounding maternity healthcare in these challenging times.


Why we need to do this

The trauma women can experience on their journey to the UK and often once they have arrived can cause many to suffer from extreme mental health issues. Additionally some 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 for any new mama, let alone alongside immigration pressures and stresses.

Women who are seeking asylum and have uncertain immigration status can have difficulties in accessing healthcare in the UK. As such, women from a migrant background 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)

We think this is unacceptable and we are working reverently to ensure women have equal access to healthcare and have support when they most need it.  

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.

Our Guiding Principles

Solidarity not Charity – We show active solidarity with marginalised migrant women in Bristol. We are person-focused and so are able to meet the diverse needs of the women we serve.

Radical nurturing Our practice is built on the fundamental belief that all mothers-to-be need compassion, support, care, and space leading up to the birth of their children, a fundamental right as a mother. It is our belief that women have the right to be supported through their pregnancy and beyond in order to harness their power and to give birth safely.

Bolstering of resilience Despite the serious challenges that these women face, they are often extremely strong and resilient. They also come from incredibly diverse cultural backgrounds which hold knowledge of valuable birthing practices. We honour their rich lived experiences, culture, and knowledge and promote this in the work we do.

Growing community Project MAMA is informed by the community it serves. Connecting women in a safe space allows for peer support and supportive friendships to thrive. It supports the building of an interdependent community where bonds are made through the shared experience of being and becoming mothers.


Who are we?

Fiona Mann – Founder & CEO

Fiona set-up Project MAMA after several years working with women seeking-asylum in the UK who were survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery. Fiona has worked within the context of women’s support services for 10 years in the UK and further afield. She completed a masters degree in Gender Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) with expertise in sexual violence amongst vulnerable populations. Fiona comes from a background of supporting survivors through grassroots movements and solidarity projects.

Dr Loubaba Mamluk – Chair of Trustees

Dr Loubaba Mamluk is a Senior Research Associate in Epidemiology at the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West at the University of Bristol. Until recently, most of her research concerned early-life influences pregnancy and childhood. She comes from Syria and has worked to lead and support the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Bristol through Citizens UK. These efforts led to formulating the hypothesis for and developing of a multi-country project on the mental health and well-being of Syrian refugees in the UK “Syrian mental Health Assessment and Migration Study”.

Dr. Michal Nahman – Trustee

Michal is an anthropologist who has researched cross-border reproduction for 19 years in Israel/Palestine, Canada, Spain and the UK. She has been a consultant to the Nuffield Foundation on fertility and works at UWE as a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and an affiliate scholar at Cambridge ReproSoc. She has a demonstrable commitment both to migration and fertility issues as well as the politics of welfare state support for motherhood. Her lived experience of motherhood and a migrant (and child and grandchild of migrant mothers) has led her to be an advocate and trustee of Project MAMA.

Amy Garrett – Trustee

Amy is a Birth Doula and a founding volunteer Mother Companion with Project MAMA. Following the birth of her 2 children she pursued her interest in childbirth and parenting by establishing a parenting support group in Bristol.
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.

Louise Mensah – Donations Coordinator

Louise completed a Masters Degree in Health Promotion and Psychology in 2005, and has since focused her work in mental health services, moving into working directly with survivors of human trafficking in 2012. She is an advocate of responsive parenting and breastfeeding and following personal challenges with this became a recognised ‘Mother Supporter’ through the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers in 2018. Her impassioned belief in supporting mothers – particularly those who have experienced trauma – has enabled her to devise Project MAMA’s peer support group; ‘Bumps and Babes without Borders’ with dedicated and specialist support in mind.

Rebecca Vincent – Associate Trustee

Rebecca is a tattoo artist and activist living in London. She started working with refugees in 2015 and over the last 3 years she has coordinated collections of aid to distribute in Calais and Dunkirk. Rebecca is an advocate for women who experience postnatal depression under significant immigration pressures. Rebecca brings to the role her own personal experience of postnatal depression along with ensuring that no woman should go through the postnatal period unsupported.

Veronica – Social Media Coordinator

Veronica is a full-time mum and part-time content writer, freelance journalist, and social media strategist focused on working with social impact technologies and nonprofits

Gail Mann – Finance Coordinator

Arguably the grandmother of Project MAMA, Gail brings to her role a diverse and varied experience in Business and Finance before taking a career break after the birth of her two daughters. Gail has a degree in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University and has taken a keen interest in her daughter’s involvement with various women’s NGO’s. Gail was delighted to accept the invitation to be Finance Coordinator for Project MAMA at its inception.

Wendy Cox – Policy & Specialist Needs Advisor

Wendy spent most of her working life in the NHS as a midwife, health visitor
and counsellor. Wendy has demonstrable experience as a sexual health worker supporting people with HIV including women with substance misuse issues and women working in the sex industry. Wendy more recently coordinated a bereavement service open to anyone who had lost a baby or child. She brings a profound understanding of the needs of vulnerable women to the role.

Alison White – Mother Companion

Alison has been working with expectant and new parents since the birth of her first baby in 2001. She has facilitated over one hundred and fifty courses antenatally for the NCT, in children’s centres, and for young parents’ projects, mostly in Bristol and Bath. She also works as a birth and postnatal doula. Over the years Alison has been a long time campaigner for family-centred maternity services and early parenting provision, and local initiatives to support new parents.

Grace Davies – Mother Companion

After completing her undergraduate study, Grace undertook Doula training as she felt a pull to support women to feel empowered and informed in their decisions surrounding birth and motherhood. She says ‘it is a privilege to be a mother companion to the many wonderful Mama’s at project mama , where the true meaning of being a Doula can be seen in friendship and female comradery.’ Grace is additionally volunteers regularly at our drop-in hub, Three B’s.

Suyai Steinhauer – Mother Companion

Suyai is an Independent Midwife and massage therapist. She is passionate about woman-centred care and supporting women and families through the childbirth continuum so they emerge feeling strong, empowered and ready for their journey as parents. She has a particular interest in birth trauma and supporting people to understand, integrate and grow from disappointing and difficult birth experiences.

Jay Urquart – Mother Companion

Jay is a birth and postnatal doula and a Doula UK director and leadership team volunteer. She is passionate about supporting women through childbirth and early parenthood, working with new mums through their own unique experiences in a respectful, calm and completely non-judgemental way. Jay lives in Bristol with her partner and two children.

Peggy Woodward – Mother Companion

Peggy retired as a midwife in 2017 after many decades working in the National Health Service with women and families from many countries and cultures. Peggy is an active campaigner with Protect our NHS, against the underfunding, fragmentation and privatisation of the NHS and towards the reinstatement of an equitable, fully tax funded healthcare service.

Christina – Community Hub Coordinator

Christina is an environmental and human rights activist originally from Canada. She has previously worked with children as a schoolteacher in both China and Vietnam, and is a certified yoga instructor, also working as a volunteer coordinator on a permaculture project in Guatemala. As someone who has had the privilege of living in many countries around the world, Christina has always felt a strong call to help migrants find their sense of community in their new homes, and she is proud to now be a part of the supportive and necessary community of Project MAMA.

Ayan – Community Hub Assistant

Ayan brings to the role an experience working as a volunteer at a local nursery and is studying to undertake a degree in Midwifery. Ayan has found that motherhood has made her more instinctively caring and protective, increasing her desire to try and play a proactive role in solving certain societal problems to build a better world for my children to grow up in. This has led me to volunteer for Project MAMA.

Domonique – Volunteer Reflective Supervisor

Domonique has a post graduate Diploma in Relational Counselling Supervision and contributed to the first Relate Family Counselling service in the UK. Domonique has 40 years experience working in the arena of birth, parenting and family life, initially at the Active Birth Centre in London, where she continues to work on the professional training team. Domonique has trained doulas and antenatal teachers for over twenty years, offering trainings in the UK, Brazil, Portugal, Turkey, India and Lithuania, culminating in the publishing of her 2007 book The Seven Secrets of Joyful Birth. She is trained craniosacral therapist and has expertise in birth, healing, prenatal and birth trauma work.

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