Migrant Help’s work in Birmingham and beyond

Each quarter Loaf raise money for a charity working in and around Birmingham. For October through December we’re working with Migrant Help, a national organisation with a strong presence here. We found out about them from a customer who volunteers with them at the hotels where migrants are often housed by the government, and we hope to host some group cooking sessions for their clients next year.

We asked Sameera Hussain, their community liaison coordinator, to explain a bit more about what they do and where your money will be going.

Migrant Help is a charity that exists to protect people affected by displacement and exploitation. We work with and for people who have been forced to flee their homes or been subject to slavery and trafficking, helping them to thrive as individuals and recover from their trauma.

Those seeking asylum in the UK can come to us to seek support as they navigate what can feel like a very challenging system. We work together with them to identify areas of concern and uncertainty, ensuring they can access the help and guidance needed to maximise their potential and thrive.

As part of the government’s resettlement schemes, we work alongside local authorities to assist Syrian and Afghan refugees. We holistically support the individuals and families, either as they await permanent accommodation or as they settle into their new communities. We help them access the necessary healthcare, language lessons, education, employment opportunities and community support.

We also provide specialist support and accommodation to victims of human trafficking and modern slavery, along with their dependents. Our dedicated teams provide safe accommodation, develop support plans and facilitate access to key services in order to empower clients as they recover from their experiences. Our aim is to reduce the risk of re-trafficking and help the survivors to move on to a positive new chapter in their lives.

We aim to support those most in need and least likely to find support elsewhere, amplify the voices of our clients, bridge community gaps and bring services together so no one is left alone when they most need someone to walk alongside them. Your donations enable us to do just that, whether it is providing warm coats during winter, running community-based sports activities or funding a mental health support worker.

We believe in the value of community, the importance of empathy and the power of every individual to make a difference to the lives of others.

We’ve been very impressed with what we’ve seen and heard of Migrant Help, and want to continue to support them beyond this quarter.

One project Sameera told me about is the setting up of schooling facilities for migrant children who find themselves moved around West Midlands schools a lot. This would give them some stability and specialist help alongside their normal schooling.

This will take a lot of work. The most useful thing is probably making contacts in the community of people who know people who can advise and provide services. Once Sameera is able to share the plans we’ll pass them on. Until then, if this sounds like something you’d like to be involved with, email info@migranthelpuk.org for the attention of Sameera Hussain.

Migrant Help – this quarter’s charity

Every quarter we raise money for a different charity working in Birmingham, and between now and Christmas it’s Migrant Help. You can add a donation to your online order or at the counter when you visit us, or give a more substantial donation directly with Gift Aid.

We were told about Migrant Help by a customer who has been volunteering with them and thought they might welcome a bread donation. When we got in touch we discovered a national network with big ideas for dealing with a situation that is only going to grow.

More immediately, they are supporting hundreds of newly arrived migrants placed in hotels across Birmingham by the government, providing them with food, clothing and, importantly, activities. They are on the front line of the current Afghan refugee crisis and urgently need funds and resources.

One reason for running this quarterly fundraising is to find organisations we can work with long term, and we have a really good feeling about Migrant Help. Whether it’s spreading awareness to our networks or running cooking activities, we reckon we’re well placed to help them build something. We hope you do too.

Introducing RSVP

This week we have a guest post from Sarah at RSVP, our charity for this quarter, explaining what they do and how your donations are being used.

The Rape and Sexual Violence Project is an award-winning organisation, providing holistic services for people in Birmingham and Solihull who have been subjected to sexual violence, including rape, child sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. We work with children and adult survivors of sexual violence to cope with trauma and enjoy a hopeful and confident future. 

We are a trauma-informed organisation, which means we don’t label or pathologise people. Instead of asking ‘what’s wrong with you?’ we ask ‘what happened to you?’ We stand with survivors, and challenge victim-blaming. 

Survivors are at the heart of what we do and have been since we were established in 1978. From the beginning, we’ve provided person-centred support, based on the Social/Trauma Model developed by Sally Plumb. This is one of the early trauma-informed approaches and makes connections between traumatic, abusive experiences of childhood and emotional distress in adult life, without labels and diagnostic criteria.

We now support thousands of people a year through counselling, advocacy, a helpline and webchat, group support and via specialist services for refugee/asylum seekers, sex workers, Chinese women and LGBTQI survivors. We also provide lots of self-help resources on our website for anyone to access. 

Our online training programme for practitioners offers affordable, bitesize sessions on the impact of sexual violence, including dedicated sessions of child sexual abuse, intersectionality and supporting male survivors. 

All our services to the public are free and so we really rely on the generous support of grants and donations. Huge thanks goes to Loaf for boldly showing their support and belief in survivors of sexual violence.


You can find out much more about RSVP’s work in their (very readable) annual report detailing the numbers they’ve helped and their plans to move through the pandemic. Download the PDF here.

In the past, Loaf has worked with RSVP, using our bakery class as a setting for group therapy, and we are keen to develop this further in the future. 

You can make a donation with your online pre-order or add it to your purchases in store. And of course you can gift directly.

Charity beings at Loaf

As you’ll know, we’ve had a donation button on our online ordering page for a while now. From mid August to the end of October we raised £980, meaning so far this year we’ve raised nearly £5,000. Which is fantastic given we never tried anything like this before. We’d like to build on it.The new business plan isn’t just about earning money. As a workers co-operative we are guided by the Co-operative Values and Principles which include “concern for the community”, looking beyond our doors and seeing how we can help the society that supports us. We’re also always been called a community bakery and were already keen to explore and develop what that might mean.

We want to build connections beyond our customers and peers, with the intention of bringing baking and cookery skills to a wider range of people who might not be able to afford, or even consider, our classes. To this end we’re going to support a new charity every quarter, passing on your donations to help with their work during the pandemic and drawing attention to them in-store and online. Then when we’re able to do so, we will look to working with them more practically.

Our first charity, which we’ll be supporting through to the end of the year, is Anawim, the Birmingham centre for women in need of help based in Balsall Heath. Incidences of domestic abuse rose dramatically under lockdown and Covid-19 has impacted disadvantaged members of society the most, from mental health to food poverty. Anawim are one of many organisations working at the front line in trying circumstances and we’re proud to be helping them into the winter months.

We are looking for charities and organisations to support from January with an emphasis on those making a local impact on people’s lives who need help during the pandemic. If you would like to suggest, or work for, a potential good fit, please get in touch.

Alongside this we’re continuing give fresh bread to organisations combatting food poverty. Every week we do a special bake for the Big Feed Project who are providing free meals to anyone in need across Birmingham. And over the Autumn we’ve regularly given our unsold bread to the B30 Food Bank and Incredible Surplus (the new name for the Real Junk Food Project) and are on call for the Solidarity Kitchen when required. Should other orgs or schools require bread over the winter we feel we should be able to meet the demand.

Birmingham Mail feature Syrian inspired bread for Oxfam appeal

Last Saturday 20 July, our bakers teamed up Oxfam Midlands to bake a one-off Syrian yoghurt flatbread to help raise awareness of Oxfam’s Syria Crisis Appeal. We’re pleased to say that the Syrian bread was a huge success and sold out within an hour. We were also featured with Oxfam Midlands in today’s Birmingham Mail (Thursday 25 July, page 16).

We’d like to thank all our customers for their enthusiasm on the day, and Dom for baking the bread in the Loaf Community Bakery. We would also encourage everyone to continue their support by visiting the Oxfam website or reading our previous Syria inspired bread blog.

Bakers use loaf to boost charity - Birmingham Mail (25 July 2013)
Bakers use loaf to boost charity – Birmingham Mail (25 July 2013)