What We’ve Achieved this Spring
Group of six racially diverse women smiling

The Maya Centre has made some incredible achievements this Spring, thanks to the dedication of our wonderful team and the continued support of stakeholders.

5 May 2023

By Hannah Uguru

We surpassed our target to offer longer-term VAWG counselling and holistic mind-body therapies by over 25%

In September, we were awarded three years of funding from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in order to offer long-term (24-week) counselling  and holistic support for women traumatised by domestic and sexual abuse. The extraordinary efforts of our counsellors and holistic mind-body therapists enabled us to see a total of 78 women this year, surpassing our target number of 60 by over 25%.

Feedback from clients was positive, speaking on the great depth of support given and the added value in being able to access both counselling and mind-body work as part of addressing trauma, anxiety and related health problems.

Our VAWG grassroots fund helped us see 147 women over two years, exceeding our target number of 100 by almost 50%

Also backed by the MoJ was the Mayor London’s Office for Policing and Crime’s (MOPAC) Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Grassroots Fund, which we were originally awarded in 2021. Specifically designed to reach more minoritised women by using psychoeducation and art therapy, we finished this funding in March 2023. 

We used this funding to pay for fantastic online psychoeducation training with ex-Maya therapist Jessica Andexer, with 11 counsellors completing this online during lockdown. Eight of our therapists went on to co-design their own six-week course based on their interests and specialisms, resulting in an incredibly diverse range of groups, encompassing women from Black Gen Z and millennial, Somali, Bengali-speaking, and Turkish-speaking demographics. Specialist topics included Domestic Abuse, Grief and Loss and Love in Relationships. Our art therapy services were also warmly received, with surprisingly effective results from 1-to-1 work, especially. These findings prove that we can be flexible and dynamic in our approach to meeting the needs of individual women.

Our therapists put their all into building and delivering these courses and activities, which they felt enriched their perspective on their work and the women we support, particularly regarding self-care and coping skills. Feedback from the women we supported was that although they felt shy at first, coming together in small groups, guided by our staff, helped build their mutual and self-trust via sharing insights and coping skills for a more resilient life. Women receiving 1-to-1 psychoeducation considered it an invaluable extension to their regular counselling, helping them to create a sense of independence on the route back to their everyday lives.

We hope to double our annual impact next year

Our in-depth, trauma-informed and holistic support for women is getting recognised, thanks to the brilliant work on our website and social media channels by our social and digital media lead, Hannah Uguru. Local corporate Macquarie & Co invited us to their International Women’s Day Quiz on the 9th of March and raised a whopping £22,500 in donations for us. This came on top of the money raised by our marvellous ambassador Siobhan Mcsweeney. She appeared on Celebrity Catchphrase in great style in February, winning £29,500 for us!! Thank you to our Lead Clinician, Mary Heffernan, for helping to facilitate both of these opportunities – our lucky charm.

Our ambitions for 2023/4 include pushing on our service-user participation work, with routes through to influencing our internal and external work on women’s mental health and violence against women and girls (VAWG). A significant fund has come in to aid us with this: we were awarded £50,000 by Propel London/ City Bridge Trust to focus on building our intercultural Women’s Forum. 

We hope to develop this using a community organising approach, Act Build Change. Here, we’ll share teachings by inviting our staff, volunteers and service-users to host networked conversations on the topic of women’s mental health and wellbeing. Key to this will be our ability to engage local partners and stakeholders in systems-change conversations about how we empower women from minoritised communities towards greater voice, choice and control in their lives.

Watch out for more news about this!

We’re approaching our one-year anniversary of the Women’s Hub

The Women’s Hub has gone from strength to strength since its launch on the 30th of July, 2022, with a major highlight being our International Women’s Day Celebration in March of this year. This innovative new project — led by Project Manager Michalina Popiolek, our community navigators, and our volunteer leaders — has involved reaching out to women in the Islington community who may never have considered their own wellbeing before, and supporting them to co-design their own wellbeing activities. Over 160 women were reached via the Women’s Hub in our first 8 months; 40% of these are new to The Maya Centre.

We are exceptionally fortunate to have a team of dedicated, highly skilled, and passionate women at The Maya Centre

Finally, we want to give a special thanks to our core team and admin staff who work tirelessly day in and day out to ensure that we have the systems and support to fulfil our important work.

We also thank our Trustees with new Chair and Vice Chair Meera Nair and Ayan Man; our volunteers past and present for their invaluable contributions to our mission (our volunteer leaders include Jacqueline, Devika, Bo, and Samira); our associate counsellors Fiona Reynolds, Koya Conteh, Michelle Newell, Faye Mahony, Chantel Antoine, and our trainee counsellor Dionne Wilson-Brown.

Two members of staff have become project leads: Fiona Reynolds and Ese Agambi are jointly running the Black Women’s Project and will be running a combination of bespoke psychoeducation workshops (Fiona) and a landmark Emotional Emancipation Circle (Ese and Koya).

We are excited to see what the future holds!