Islington charity can help more women ‘on the margins’

An Islington-based charity which supports some of the most marginalised women in society will be able to offer over 2,000 extra counselling sessions thanks to new funding.

The Maya Centre, based in Archway, offers free counselling to women who have experienced trauma resulting from domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, war or conflict.

The charity is launching a new project aimed at women from black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee (BAMER) backgrounds whose mental health has suffered as a result of gender-based violence.

The scheme, open to women from Islington and neighbouring boroughs, has been made possible by a £134,700 grant from City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

“Women from BAMER backgrounds often face all kinds of obstacles such as language and cultural barriers which may prevent them getting the help they need.

“This funding will enable The Maya Centre to build on its many years of experience to deliver targeted, specialised, life-changing support to women who would otherwise fall by the wayside.”

Most women targeted by the scheme are living in poverty and many have often faced trauma such as domestic or sexual abuse, so-called ‘honour-based’ violence or female genital mutilation.

The City Bridge Trust funding will enable 700 extra counselling sessions a year over three years, helping 105 women, who can also access wellbeing and resilience workshops and complementary therapies such as holistic massage, yoga and reiki.

Emma Brech, The Maya Centre Chief Executive Officer, said:

“The women we work with often find themselves marginalized due to a range of factors including poverty, stigma and discrimination – so that the true nature of their trauma can remain hidden for a long time.

“They need a trusting women-only environment where tailored support can be offered, reflected in the diverse language and cultural backgrounds of our specialist staff.

“It may be some time before a woman feels able to disclose experiences of abuse or exploitation and it’s important that we are able to provide a safe, collaborative and nurturing space.

“Often simply being able to talk about what has happened to them and realising they deserve better can have a profound effect – we see women’s lives transformed when they come here.”

More information about the Maya Centre is available at www.mayacentre.org.uk

The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of over £25 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

Case study

Zakia was referred to The Maya Centre by Solace Women’s Aid following a series of controlling and abusive relationships. Originally from India, she was feeling isolated in the UK and found that she was increasingly looking for validation from others, unsure as to how to be ‘herself’.

With careful support from her therapist, working in her own language, Zakia was able to explore her difficult childhood relationships and the impact this has on her choice of romantic partners, leading her to believe that she could only exist in relation to them. This led her to identify a pattern of reliance and powerlessness which she gradually reversed by exploring her own identity and self-expression as a woman in London, learning how she could connect with others in a positive way and be understood on her own terms.

By the end of her sessions, Zakia reported that she now had the freedom to be herself and had the strength to leave an unhealthy relationship in search of a more fulfilling life. She was very happy with the support she had received at The Maya Centre and was keen to look for further therapy in support of continuing personal growth.

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

The City Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust has allocated £11 million to the London Community Response, set up to help charities deal with the impact of coronavirus, and has also given over £1.7 million in one-off grants to 202 organisations it already supports to help them offset lost income resulting from the pandemic.

The London Community Response Fund is administered by City Bridge Trust, the funding arm of Bridge House Estates. The City of London Corporation is the sole trustee of Bridge House Estates and Members of its Court of Common Council form the City Bridge Trust Committee, responsible for taking grant and funding decisions for the charity.