£75,000 gift from John Lewis helps Lambeth’s Baytree Centre offer training and advice

A donation from a chain of department stores will give South London women the chance of a better future through funding a new employability project.

Lambeth’s Baytree Centre, which supported more than 650 women and girls in 2015, has been awarded £75,000 from John Lewis to provide child and social care training to 90 women with the aim of helping them through improving access to work.

The three-year project will be integrated into the Baytree Centre’s current programme, which supports women from more than 20 different nationalities and 32 languages with coaching, English classes and other family activities – pictured above.

The centre’s development director Carmen Gonzalez said: “The funding is wonderful. This is the first time we will be careers-focused. Most of the women at our centre do not speak English and many don’t even have literacy skills in their own language.”

The new project will deliver training in partnership with High Trees, a charity which specialises in employability. It will also offer support with CV-writing and confidence-building.

John Lewis Foundation programme coordinator Miranda Spottiswoode said: “The Baytree Centre has shown that with support and training women and girls are able to overcome multiple barriers to employment.

“After spending time at Baytree, 34 percent of beneficiaries go directly into employment and 63 percent proceed to further education. Fantastic results and we are happy to help support their work.”

Basra, one of Baytree’s English students, said: “When I came here I was shy, but now I can speak without shame.”

Women supported by Baytree often say they face low self-esteem and overwhelming pressures of supporting their children.

“They feel isolated. They come to the UK for economic and safety reasons but they are alone. Lambeth is very exhausting and the streets can be very intimidating,” Miss Gonzalez added.

“Many are dealing with problems they don’t realise they have and then it’s too late. They don’t think about themselves, just supporting their families.

“Women share things with us because we are like a little extra family, which is good. But we also want women to have skills and confidence to move on.

“This is not a course just to get them jobs, but to support themselves and their families,” said Miss Gonzalez.

Find out more about Baytree Centre’s work at

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