Last week was special for City of Sanctuary with Dave Smith and the Boaz Trust in Manchester and Rose McCarthy and Maternity Stream of Sanctuary winning awards in recognition of the amazing projects they founded. These awards help to put sanctuarty firmly on the agenda, bringing the needs of destitute asylum seekers and vulnerable preganant mothers firmly into the mainstream agenda of our communities.
The Boaz Trust in Manchester was one of five national charities honoured last week, and as the largest provider of accommodation to destitute asylum seekers in UK. Through its support programme, the Boaz Trust provides advocacy and support, with each client assigned a case owner who helps them access basic needs (such as food, bus fares, clothing and toiletries), and specialist services such as trauma counselling. The Boaz Trust also provide free legal representation to clients as well as weekly programmes of activities and ESOL classes to help clients learn skills, develop friendships and integrate within their local community.
As one of the most experienced providers of support in the UK, Dave has created NACCOM, a network of destitution agencies. The Boaz Trust work with other agencies to provide the best possible care, referring beneficiaries onto specialist services and accessing statutory/legal support to help progress with asylum claims.
The same day saw Rose McCarthy honoured with the Hamara Women’s Achievement Award . Rose is a founder member of Leeds City of Sanctuary and during the past year she has been putting her remarkable passion and creativity into creating the Maternity Stream of Sanctuary, an expression of her desire to make sure that every refugee mother can enjoy the same rights, help and privileges available to others. Rose says: “ Being pregnant, giving birth and becoming a mother can be a wonderful but stressful time in any woman’s life but when a women is forced to seek sanctuary in a strange country the stress is even greater. She may not know who to turn to for help; understand why she should visit a midwife or doctor or know how to cope with the trauma she has been through. She will need understanding health professionals, friends and community support to help her to adapt to life as a mother.” Rose’s determination to make a difference was further fuelled by the shocking statistic that while fewer than 0.5% of pregnant women are asylum seekers, they account for over 14% of childbirth-related fatalities.