Ourmala’s service users are refugees and asylum-seekers from all over the world, from Bolivia and Iran to Syria and Eritrea. We support women, children, men and young people.

Most have experienced atrocities such as torture, sexual violence in conflict, human trafficking and violent political oppression.

While their backgrounds vary greatly, from corporate high-fliers to women who have had no access to basic literacy, all have fled from their countries of origin due to a well-founded fear of death or persecution.

Refugees and asylum-seekers are some of the most vulnerable, marginalised and under-represented people in our society.* Refugee women are more likely than any other group globally to experience gender based violence. For example, rape, sexual violence and forced prostitution. They are particularly at risk of poor mental and physical health due to multiple stresses, including (further to the above) loss or separation from family, detention in the UK, barriers to moving on with their lives here (not legally being able to work if seeking asylum, uncertainty about the future, language, poor living conditions, social isolation, malnutrition, poverty). Most suffer anxiety, depression, insomnia, lack of self-esteem and confidence, physical pain and isolation.

* Vulnerable Women’s Project. 2009. “The Vulnerable Women’s Project: Refugee and Asylum Seeking Women Affected by Rape or Sexual Violence – Literature Review.” London: Refugee Council.


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