Refugee Week 2021 – Somali Women’s Group

It’s Refugee Week 2021 (14-20 June). To celebrate we’re sharing stories about the work we do and the difference we make. 

Throughout 2020 we ran a Women’s Group to support 25+ refugee Somali women, now living in Battersea, improve their mental health and wellbeing. 

Here’s what they had to say about the difference the group made to their lives: 

Hibaaq*, told us, “I’m a young mum with three children. I met Faaduma (our support worker) through my children’s school. I feel very supported especially with mental health as it is such a taboo in our community and helped us normalise mental health in the group. She helped us to establish a community where we can share our feelings. Thanks for changing our lives!!”

Muna, a local parent, describes her time with us, “I wanted to get out of the house so I went to the Somali Women’s Group. I had post-natal depression after my baby was born but I never talked about it, even though I went to hospital. In my culture we are told that to go to the Koran if you’re not feeling well. My family just said, ‘it’s just a baby, its normal, a Muslim woman shouldn’t be stressed’. I came to the Group because I didn’t want to be at home being stressed and I want to help other women too. For example, in the last session it got emotional and I was crying and I think other women were able to cry because of that, and crying is good.  

Now I feel able to talk about issues and ask for help. Somali women are supposed to be strong, but I don’t have family here or the support we have at home, so I need to ask for help. I used to get very angry with my children but now I can manage better because of the advice we got in the group. My marriage was also very difficult but I got good advice and we are still together.”

Aisha told us, “I have met Faaduma at Soutfield Primary School and she told few of us about KLS’ Love2Learn work. Because of Faaduma’s friendly demeanour combined with her professionalism that’s what attracted me to attend Love2Learn At first I was nervous and hesitated before coming to the sessions, but all in all it was lovely. I had the best time. I had the opportunity to meet some lovely mothers who had shared the same culture and background as me and shared same amazing life experiences. I loved the cooking sessions in particular.”

“Afra is a young mum who has 4 children who has been coming to KLS for the past 2 years. She has been suffering from long term mental health issues. These range from panic attacks to anxiety. Her panic attacks made her unwilling to take her kids out to places such as the park. She was also unable to go out in public places and take public transport as her anxiety stopped her from doing this. She then gained confidence with our help to go to the GP and receive help. She now sees a counsellor regularly.” Afra received one-to-one support, in addition to being part of the group.

The final word goes to Saida, “Honestly, I loved the group and I could not believe we were having it in our area. Every session I attended, I learnt some useful skills that improve the quality of life. My confidence is improving every day. I use my time wisely. I started to manage my anger and stress better. I reorganized my household and throw away many things that I did need to have in my house. I also become a great parent as I implemented many of the useful tips.”

*Note: Names have been changed to ensure anonymity. Photos are illustrative.

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