Today marks the beginning of #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. This year's theme is 'Anxiety'. Throughout the week we'll be highlighting some of the factors which cause anxiety for the women we work with. 


Preparing to have a baby can be a wonderful time. It can also be scary and stressful, and lots of women rely on their friends and family to help them through this. To offer advice and reassurance, to pass on clothes and toys, to go along when they are scared to go to a medical appointment alone.

For women who have claimed asylum in the UK, pregnancy can be especially difficult.

Who do I turn to if I am worried about my baby? How will I afford maternity clothes? What are my rights when I am in hospital? And will people understand me?

Becoming a mother without the support of the friends and family left behind in the countries they have fled, means that asylum-seeking women face a great deal of additional stress during pregnancy.

Refugee Women Connect supports pregnant women to engage with health services, we run a specialist perinatal group offering peer and mental health support, and we ensure that women have a Moses basket, clothes and nappies ready for their baby’s arrival.

We can’t remove all the anxiety associated with giving birth in a foreign country, but we work to give mothers and babies the best start possible in very difficult circumstances.

Last year we launched a set of maternity care resources developed by women with experience of giving birth in the UK asylum system, one for pregnant women, another for health professionals.
We encourage you to read the guides and share within your networks. We hope these resources can alleviate some of the anxiety pregnant asylum seeking women face as they prepare to give birth in a foreign country.


Loneliness affects so many people. During lockdown, many of us realised how difficult it is to live without seeing friends and family. Our support networks are so important to us. Most women who have sought asylum in the UK have left behind family and friends in the countries they have fled, and they experience that isolation every day.

Poverty makes it very difficult to keep in touch with family abroad, even when it is safe for women to do so, and poverty makes it hard for women to meet new people and build friendships here.

Refugee Women Connect offers a place for women to meet, socialise and receive peer support at our weekly drop-ins and we pay for bus tickets so that women don’t have to spend their £6.42 daily asylum support on a bus ticket instead of food.


So many people in the UK are suffering stress caused by financial worries right now. For women in the asylum system, their £6.42 per day income means that they have to make some very difficult decisions.

If I need to get the bus today, will I have enough money for food? I really need shoes because it’s getting cold and I only have flipflops, but can I afford £4 for trainers from a charity shop?

People in the asylum system can wait years and years for a decision on their claim, and they are forced to live in poverty without the right to work to improve their situation.

They rely on charities like Refugee Women Connect to fill the gaps.


Living in asylum accommodation can cause huge stress. Asylum seekers have no choice over where they live or who they live with. Accommodation can be dirty, run down, noisy and women do not always feel safe to use shared facilities.

In contingency hotels where meals are provided, there is little choice about what residents eat or when they eat.

At our weekly Liverpool drop-in, our service user volunteers come up menu suggestions and can cook food from their home country which they wish to share with others. Volunteers cook a hot meal which staff, volunteers, service users and their children enjoy together in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

We support women to challenge unsafe accommodation, and provide a safe and happy place to come each week.

We all face times of stress, uncertainty, and anxiety. You can help alleviate stress and anxiety for asylum seeking women by signing up to give £3 a month, or whatever you can afford.

For the price of a cup of coffee, you can make a real difference for vulnerable women in our community!

Click here to sign up to be a monthly donor.