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Creating a smoother transition into motherhood for people seeking sanctuary in Manchester

Often women seeking sanctuary have a lack of trust in medical professionals and avoid reporting to institutions such as the NHS out of fear of deportation. This can be exacerbated by a deep-rooted fear of racialised stigma and hostile immigration policies, that deter women from sharing personal information with public bodies.

Despite maternal and infant mortality rates declining in the UK, sadly studies have found that Black, Asian, and minority ethnic women have significantly higher morbidity and mortality rates and poorer experiences of healthcare (Moller et al, 2019). They also face unequal access to maternity services in the UK and have poorer health outcomes compared to white British women (Garcia et al, 2015).

Through our partnership work, we aim to change this.


Working with Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, the Caribbean and African Health Network (CAHN), and Ardwick and Longsight Primary Care Network we explored ways to improve maternity care for women from Eastern African backgrounds living in Longsight.


30 women in the Little Lion network who are largely from Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia took part in weekly sessions to dismantle the communication barriers they experience in their journey to motherhood. Many of the women in this network have experienced sexual and gender-based trauma, which can include trafficking and Female Genital Mutilation.

Our Maternity Care test and learn site connected women from the Little Lions network with professionals and front-line services from across the health and social care network. In each session, the women were able to raise specific questions about their health and through discussions, they learned new ways to improve their lifestyles. Their children were able to access a playroom and toys while they attended the session. Every session started with a signature Afrocats dance session to get the women relaxed, present and ready to engage.

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