Project MAMA is a registered charity launched in March 2018 that offers a free, confidential and individual-focused holistic support to women throughout pregnancy, labour and child birth, and those first few weeks of parenthood.
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 those 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. 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, in spite of political barriers.
Bolstering of resilience Despite the serious challenges that mamas face, women often exhibit strength and resilience. Mamas accessing Project MAMA 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
Amy GarrettOperations Coordinator
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.
Rachel LoweCommunity Project Assistant
Wendy Cox Policy & Specialist Needs Advisor
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.
Gail Mann Finance Coordinator
Maddie HarrisWellbeing & Advocacy Coordinator
In 2016, she set up Humans for Rights Network in 2016, an independent organisation created to facilitate the documentation of Human rights abuses against refugees and asylum seekers throughout Europe. She is also co-creator of Refugee Solidarity Summit.
Veronica Morozova Social Media Coordinator
Domonique Sakoilsky Volunteer Supervisor
Louise MensahDonations Coordinator
Dr Loubaba MamlukChair of Trustees
Her research includes border security developments and its impacts on human rights and for people on the move, including climate migrants. In 2015 for gave a TedX talk called “Dismantling the Border Security Mantra”. In 2019 she organised the first conference in Bristol designed to foster discussion on climate change and migration with community members.
She has worked with refugees in the UK, Turkey and Germany, including being former Director of Bristol based charity Borderlands. She has also been the founder of several projects, including Life Jackets for Refugees – the first project to get high quality to refugees making the crossing from Turkey to Greece.
Dr. Michal Nahman
Before becoming a midwife Aly was a dental technician, she became passionate about human rights, especially women’s, after 3 months of volunteering in a hospital in Africa.
In her first months in the UK she worked as a nanny in London, an experience that gave her a better understanding of motherhood beyond the delivery suite and postnatal ward.