When young forced migrants and suspected victims of human trafficking arrive in the East Midlands, Baca supports them to apply for asylum, rebuild their lives and integrate into the community. The 16 to 18-year-olds receive intensive support, from English classes and therapy to specialist housing and developing life skills such as washing, cooking, cleaning and shopping.
After a £14,710 one-year grant helped Baca strengthen their systems and strategy, their current £47,263 two-year grant (recently extended for two more years) contributes to the salary of Chief Executive Louise Jarvis, who oversees the charity’s strategic direction and partnerships.
One of these partnerships is with the local college, allowing Baca to provide specialised education for those with complex needs. Louise explains:
"Young people with high levels of trauma might be far from ready for a college environment even though their studies are going well, so we offer accredited courses here. The young people can still transition into mainstream education when they’re ready, but they keep progressing here in the meantime."
Baca has also developed a strong relationship with the Local Authority Children’s Teams, with whom they work closely:
"They have legal responsibility for the young people whilst we act as the carers, so we’re in constant communication. We need a joined-up approach to ensure consistent care."
However, working across several Local Authorities can be challenging. The process of securing contracts is repetitive and time-consuming:
"Every few years, we go through a tender process for each region, and each one takes about six months. It’s frustrating; we’ve worked together for a long time and they know us well, but we have to keep writing the same thing. A bit of me thinks, just visit us and see us in action!"
With close relationships upholding so much of Baca’s work, it’s easy to understand why Louise feels strongly about keeping the charity local. However, she is keen to share knowledge and learning:
"When you’re part of the community, people really care. For example, one of our support workers introduced one of our girls to a local running club, who waived her joining fees.
"That’s why we don’t want to expand too widely – it’s not about Baca caring for all young unaccompanied asylum seekers in the UK. We’d rather partner with local organisations in other counties, sharing our knowledge and experience."
Budgeting is difficult for Baca since their statutory funding depends on the number of young people they work with at any given time. This makes their income unpredictable as there is often no way to anticipate when young people will arrive. Furthermore, statutory funding only covers basic care costs; Baca relies on trusts and grants for the wider support they provide.
However, Louise says it’s not just the guaranteed income but the whole package that makes Lloyds Bank Foundation a valuable partner:
"Lloyds Bank Foundation just totally gets it. Beyond the money, the extra support and tools make such a difference, and our Grant Manager, Gary Beharrell, is an absolute legend. You genuinely feel you can take the extra offers or leave them, you don’t feel pressured to do something that isn’t right for your charity just to maintain a good relationship."
Louise has also been mentored by Sarah Lennon, who works as a trainer in Learning Delivery at Lloyds Banking Group. Sarah says:
"Louise is so experienced that at first I wondered how I could give her more than what she already had. But I challenge her, get her thinking a little bit. Sometimes it’s also about giving Louise the tools to keep herself on track – she’s very creative, she has lots of ideas and gets involved in so much that the ideas could get lost otherwise."
"Sarah’s so good to talk to – I know I can ring her with anything. It’s good to have an outside perspective and fresh eyes."