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Who are the Birth Partner Project?

Maternity services across the world are experiencing increasing numbers of women and birthing people seeking sanctuary in the country. Many do not have family close by or are completely alone. It is therefore vital charities  step in to provide support. Areatha Comanescu, Volunteer Coordinator, explains the important role of the  Birth Partner Project in Cardiff to step in and fill the gap. 


The Birth Partner Project is a small Cardiff based charity who support sanctuary seeking women and birthing people.  

The charity employs four part-time members of staff and currently has around twelve active volunteers who provide birth support to sanctuary seeking women and birthing people who would otherwise birth alone. 

The Birth Partner Project is fortunate to have a diverse team of paid staff, volunteers and Trustees, some of whom share a lived experience of the asylum system or have been discriminated against due to the colour of their skin.  

We strive to raise awareness of the inequalities sanctuary seeking women and birthing people face and work collaboratively with health boards and other organisations to challenge racism and work in an anti-racist way.  

It is important that women and birthing people are treated in a respectful manner and treated with kindness as this will have a huge impact on the overall experience of their labour and birth. 

In October 2023 we were awarded the Maternity Service Sanctuary Award from the City of Sanctuary Maternity stream. A very proud moment to be recognised for our work. Work that must continue and work that we are aware is not only needed in Cardiff but also much needed in other parts of Wales too.  

Maternity Service Sanctuary Award

As the Volunteer Coordinator my role is to recruit and facilitate training for potential volunteer birth support partners. I joined the organisation as a volunteer myself in January 2023 before taking on the paid role of Volunteer Coordinator in September 2023. 

The training provided is excellent. It includes training on the asylum system and the impact it has on mothers in Wales; we create an understanding of the impact of trauma, including birth trauma; we cover safeguarding, working with interpreters and look at a holistic approach to providing support during labour and birth. 

We work hard to build and maintain trusted relationships and since September 2023 we have supported 10 women – some of whom do not speak English as their first language. To better support those with little or no English, we use an interpreting service which allows our staff and volunteers to communicate more effectively as we want the women and birthing people to be fully informed to make decisions relating to their labour and birth. 

Navigating the asylum system alongside pregnancy whilst being in a new country with no family or friends for support can be incredibly stressful. Support from our team can reduce and alleviate some of that stress.  

Each of the women we have supported has expressed how thankful they were to not have given birth alone. Several of the women commented that having a volunteer or TBPP staff member with them was like having a family member there supporting them.  

We know that our support reduces feelings of anxiety and stress for the women, that representation matters and how meaningful it is for the women and birthing people to be supported by a woman they feel they can identify with, a woman who may share their cultural or religious identity.   

In addition to support during labour and birth our volunteers have also supported 9 of the women during the postpartum period. Here our trained volunteers have provided a level of practical support such as bringing groceries, helping women settle in following their transfer from hospital and for some women it has been more about being able to take a shower with the reassurance that someone is keeping a close eye on their baby for them. 

We cannot underestimate how isolated many of the women are and how even the little things our volunteers do make a big difference.  

We understand the importance of reflecting upon and evaluating our service to improve and promote positive outcomes for the women and birthing people we support. 

Facilitating positive outcomes for women and birthing people will in turn promote positive outcomes for their babies. Parenting is not easy and the circumstances in which our service users are navigating the asylum system and the healthcare system can mean parenting is harder and made more difficult due to the disparities and the number of barriers they face. 

There is more work to be done to reduce and remove these barriers. 

Our next round of volunteer training will begin later this month and I am very much looking forward to seeing their care and compassion in supporting more amazing women and birthing people.  

Please visit our website to read our impact report and more about the work we do. 

Areatha Comanescu, Volunteer Coordinator 

The Birth partners Project, Cardiff 

April 2024