Yoga for Refugees

We want to help refugees and asylum-seekers recover from atrocities and enable them to settle happily and contribute to society.

We did it!

On 28th Mar 2017 we successfully raised £12,510 of £7,200 target with 242 supporters in 155 days

New stretch target

- £9,600 more will enable us to refund the cost of travel for our THREE other weekly classes, in South Kensington and Newington Green. One of those classes is part of our Refugee Mums & Babies Day where we now have 65 women and their littles on the register. Up to 16 people in each class.

- £13,600 means we can do this and pay our office worker for two days a week. Our model minimises the cost of running classes by making sure wherever possible, equipment is donated and the venue hire is given in-kind with no cost to Ourmala.

- £13,600 means we can do all this and pay our office worker for TWO days a week. Our model minimises the cost of running classes by making sure, wherever possible, equipment is donated, venue hire is given 'in-kind'  with no cost to Ourmala and much of our work (actualy 100% at the moment!) is delivered by volunteers. However,  a small paid team of people in the office is essential for our work to be sustainable - especially if we want to put on more classes to reach more people. 

- £18,400 means we can do all this plus TWO NEW yoga classes in addition to the 4 we already run:

New class 1 will be for young refugees and people seeking asylum (aged 15-25) in collaboration with the British Red Cross in central London at Ashtanga Yoga London, which will be donating 50% of the travel refunds.

New class 2 will be for another of the organisations on our waiting list. We will let you know if we raise the money to do it!

- £20,000 means we can do all this plus give the women refugees at Hackney City Farm a hot healthy lunch after yoga. We would love to do this. Many we work with are malnourished and this is the only hot meal they get in a week. It's also great for building community, sitting around the table together and chatting. So normal for most of us. So rare for many of the people we work with.

Each of classes is a specialist yoga class and involves at least 1/2 hour social time afterwards to help build community. At each class we have a yoga teacher plus an assistant.

OUR DREAM is to run 20 yoga classes a week by the end of 2017 to meet current demand:

  • With 10 classes a week by the end of March 2017 (we currently run 4 a week)
  • 15 a week by the end of June 2017
  • 20 by end of November 2017

20 classes a week would mean we were helping 320 refugee and asylum seekers each week turn their suffering into strength so they are better equipped to move on with their lives + the 130 refugee and asylum-seeking mums and babies in our weekly Mums and Babies Group.

This would cost £130,000 a year to run which we felt was far too large a sum for our first ever crowdfunder so I'm writing it here just in case you know any philanthropist who might like to enable this.

Ourmala helps refugees and asylum-seekers rebuild their lives. This project will give over 200 people the opportunity to change their suffering into the strength they need to to move on with their lives, fulfil their potential and contribute to society. Most we work with are registered with the UK Home Office and have experienced cruelty such as torture, human trafficking and sexual violence in conflict zones. Most wake every night with nightmares about the past and anxiety, depression, physical pain, low confidence, fear, malnutrition, extreme isolation, stress and exhaustion are very common. We specialise in providing therapeutic yoga classes because it not only helps with all of these but it is one of the most effective ways to recover from trauma.

“I used to have real trouble sleeping and was on high levels of antidepressants. Yoga has helped me sleep – if you can’t sleep, it is difficult to do anything.”  - Eden

All our classes are free and we refund the cost of their travel, without which most would not be able to afford to come. We also provide English class, hot nutritious lunch and information about other services that can help them. Healthcare, housing, education and employment, for example.

Why we're crowdfunding now
We've recently seen a spike in the number of people seeking asylum in the UK, mainly due to war and tyrannical political regimes. We currently run four yoga classes a week with up to 16 people in each class. Over 250 people are on our waiting list. And with clients travelling up to two hours each way for yoga, demand is at an all-time high.  

“I have nothing. Yoga gives me hope.” - Hiwot

At the same time, we currently run a 100% voluntary basis, which is not sustainable. We have tried and tested our model. Feedback from our clients and organisations that refer to us such as British Red Cross, Freedom from Torture and The Helen Bamber Foundtion is incredibly positive. We would love to put on more classes to meet the demand but we need to make sure our current classes are sustainable first.

Will you back us so we can?

 “A lot of us don’t have families here and Ourmala is a beating heart for us.” - Jacqueline

The people we help come from all over the world and are referred to us by over 25 human rights and humanitarian organisations. For example, British Red Cross, The Helen Bamber Foundation and Freedom from Torture. Together, we  deliver a complete package of support for refugees and asylum seekers.

"After yoga, I can concentrate on what I need to do. Before, my mind is bad. It helps me move forward." - Maritas

Ourmala's team of Yoga teachers are especially trained to work with refugees and people seeking asylum. Ourmala provides this training in collaboration with The Minded Institute, one of the UK's leading providers in Yoga Therapy.

What the money raised will do:

- £80 will enable 16 people to change their suffering into strength at a therapeutic yoga class by paying their travel
- £3,200 will do this at 40 classes in Hackney over 2017 with around 16 people in each class
- £7,200 means we can do this and all importantly pay someone to be in the office one day a week to organise all four of our current classes, teachers, referrals, travel refund paperwork and all the tasks that go on behind the scenes to enable an operation to run smoothly

If were able to raise £7,200 then this project also has 'stretch targets' that would enable us to raise more and put on a new classes, including one for young people seeking asylum, aged between 13 and 22. We've just finished a pilot project with the British Red Cross with yoga classes with up to 25 young people in them. Overwhelmingly positive feedback and we would love to put regular sessions in for them to help them sleep and cope better with the stresses of their lives.

With your backing, Ourmala can continue to help these extremely vulnerable yet strong and inspirational people move on with their lives. Thank you for believing in us and our mission!

Thank you Tom Day for letting us use your beautiful track on our video :)

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