London Black Women’s Project (formerly Newham Asian Women’s Project) has a dynamic history which is about social change and transformation.
Newham Asian Women’s Collective (NAWC) was established to campaign for and support the needs of South Asian women in the London Borough of Newham. NAWC identified that for South Asian women experiencing domestic violence there were significant barriers due to racism and discrimination, and social, political and economic exclusion affecting access routes to vital services.
NAWC expanded into the neighbouring east London Boroughs of Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, and Waltham Forest. Following the expansion, a group called the East London Asian Women’s Group (ELAWG) was created focusing specifically on meeting the needs of South Asian women in East
Newham Asian Women’s Project (NAWP) emerged from these early developments initially to provide support, counselling and advice to women and their children fleeing domestic violence. NAWP opened its first refuge to provide emergency accommodation and housing support services in Newham.
NAWP joined forces with sister organisations to challenge the No Recourse to Public Funds rule for women with insecure immigration status fleeing domestic violence.
NAWP joined Black, immigrant, refugee and anti-racism groups calling for just and fair treatment for all citizens living in Europe.
NAWP’s Training service opened its doors to women providing essential training in courses ranging from ESOL, computer literacy and childcare. From 1995 to 2010 the courses were accessed by 500 women per year from the NEET group. With a shift in funding priorities, the Training service shut in
NAWP opened the Resource Centre at 661 Barking Road. The centre, officially opened by NAWP’s patron Meera Syal became NAWP’s main office.
At the Resource Centre, NAWP launched its first weekly support groups for South Asian women called Chandani and Saheli. These groups were survived by Shakti, the only support group for older South Asian women in Newham. In that same year NAWP opened a second stage refuge in partnership with East Thames Housing Group (now East Thames Housing Association).
The second stage refuge provided housing support to women under a model of semi-independent and independent living. It proved successful in providing women with essential housing support so that they could move on the safe and sustainable housing of their own.
NAWP marked its tenth-year anniversary by setting up a new therapeutic support service for adult women. It remains one of few counselling services offering community language counselling.
In that same year NAWP won the National Excellence Award from SmitheKline Beecham. At the time, we were the only Black women’s group and London-based organisation to have received the award.
The same year NAWP, funded by the Newham Intercity Multifund, conducted research on the mental health needs of South Asian women and published a report called, ‘Growing Up Young, Asian and Female in Britain: Conflict and Culture’.
NAWP, along with the Asian Women’s Resource Centre in Brent, secured funding to develop IMKAAN. The aim of IMKAAN was to develop and provide resources in support of Black women’s refuges. Today, IMKAAN is an independent second tier organisation and we continue to have a successful collaboration and working relationship with them.
That same year, NAWP developed the Zindaagi (meaning ‘life’) project focusing on service delivery to young women and working under an early intervention and prevention framework.
NAWP expanded its refuge provision to the London Borough of Haringey and took over the management of two 10-bedspace refuges for South Asian women. That same year NAWP won the BBC Asia (Asian Success, Innovation and Achievement) Award.
NAWP was involved in the first ever National Inquiry into Young People and Self-harm in an advisory capacity funded by the Camelot Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation. The Inquiry Report went on to highlight Zindaagi as a model of Good Practice.
That same year NAWP developed a training pack called ‘Silent Scream’ to raise awareness about self-
NAWP was short-listed for the Health Services Journal (HSJ) Award under the category for Mental Health Innovation for the work done with young South Asian women around self-harm.
That same year NAWP obtained funding from the Big Lottery Fund to re-launch the Advice Service. This funding essentially saved the service from closure and ensured that women in East London would have access to free legal advice and information services to protect and promote their rights. Since then, BLF has funded the advice service with NAWP achieving three separate bids with each lasting 3 years.
NAWP’s Training service also underwent an Ofsted inspection and was awarded a grade of ‘Outstanding’. It was the first voluntary sector training organisation to be awarded this grade.
NAWP launched Painful Secrets: A Qualitative Study in the Reasons Why Young Women Self Harm.
That same year NAWP launched the first national DVD on self-harm and young people produced in collaboration with Mouth That Roars. The DVD focused on advice and support for young people and professionals working in mental health services and it was funded by Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.
NAWP achieved Customer First Quality Mark Standard. Since then, NAWP has been accredited with excellence under the award three consecutive times with each award lasting 2 years.
In the same year NAWP diversified its client base to provide some of its services to all Black, minoritised and refugee women across London.
NAWP launched a dedicated and specialist project focusing on support services to young Black and minoritised women experiencing domestic and sexual violence funded by Comic Relief and developed a dedicated therapeutic support service.
That same year, NAWP developed a specialist support group for young women suffering domestic and sexual violence.
NAWP launched a pilot scheme on housing for women moving on from accommodation-based services in refuges. This served as the blueprint for the expansion of the refuge work.
NAWP developed ‘Building Capacities’ after securing the first of many contracts to deliver specialist VAWG HP training and awareness raising to frontline professionals across criminal justice, Police, social services, education, housing, VCS, and other sectors on violence against women and girls including harmful practices.
NAWP expanded its refuge provision from 4 refuges and 25 bedspaces to 6 refuges and 41 bedspaces to meet the needs of Black and minoritised women and children.
In the same year ‘Project: Aware’ was launched, a dedicated and specialist Black and minoritised women and girls project focusing on sexual abuse and exploitation and challenging the normalisation, tolerance and acceptance of violence in society and working towards independence, freedom and safety.
NAWP launched a dedicated and specialist counselling and therapeutic support service to operate directly from the refuge providing women with individual counselling session, support groups and essential work with children in refuges.
NAWP achieved Advice Quality Standard in the areas of Housing and Women (Domestic Violence) obtaining excellence across the board in these categories.
In the same year, ‘Project: Empower’ was launched as a specialist legal advice and information service and community advocacy to Black and minoritised women including advice on welfare, debt, housing, immigration, domestic and sexual abuse, rape, so-called honour-based violence and exploitation, FGM and forced
Under Project: Empower, NAWP launched a pilot project to safely challenge access by women experiencing domestic violence to PLPs (privatised legal processes and their legitimising agents). The project works with women in communities through the advocacy approach to sign post them to safe, confidential and free LBWP rights-based services and legal representation.
NAWP also successfully developed ‘EMPOWERHOUSE’, a Black and minoritised women and girls’ creative arts and theatre project aiming to raise awareness of violence against women and girls including harmful practices using survivor narratives to create common approaches and collaborative actions. NAWP achieved Women’s Aid National Quality Standard.
On 25 November, the Management Committee agreed to change the name of the organisation to London Black Women’s Project.
LBWP expanded its emergency accommodation services for Black and minoritised women and children surviving domestic and sexual violence from 6 refuges with 41 bedspaces to 7 refuges with 51 bedspaces.
In that same year ‘Project: Free Choice’, a dedicated and specialist forced marriage project focusing on early intervention and prevention responses to all Black and minoritised women and girls was launched. This project provides frontline support, advocacy and awareness raising to women and girls.
LBWP also developed ‘VISION OF ME’, using Black and minoritised women and girls’ creative agency to empower by constructing worldviews that are free from violence and harm. This project aims to transform the ways women and girls are supported by changing power dynamics between ‘provider’ and ‘user’.
LBWP celebrates 30 years of protecting and securing the rights of Black and minoritised women and girls.
LBWP successfully campaigns to maintain funding for four of its six refuges in Newham and further promotes its specialist and essential ‘by and for’ services provision for Black and minoritised women.
The organisation focuses on holistic provision for women and girls through its seven refuges, expert legal advice and an expanded counselling service.
During the pandemic, these services are maintained, and the counselling increases to meet women's urgent needs, with support from a range of funders and commitment from staff.
LBWP expands its projects and services for women across London through strong partnerships with Oya, funders such as Comic Relief, the London boroughs of Newham and Haringey and central government. It works strategically to continue to strengthen specialist provision for Black and minoritised women by Black and minoritised women.