Two women sitting on a sofa, smiling and holding the pregnant stomach of one of the women

Providing vital support to pregnant seekers of sanctuary

Published: 13/05/24 | Categories: Information & support,Volunteering, Author: Bec Woolley

We’ve collected stories highlighting how organisations working in health and social care go above and beyond to provide support. Bec Woolley, Interim Project Lead at the Birth Partner Project, tells us more.

As we’re keen to capture the stories of those providing incredible health and social care services across Wales, we’ve launched a brand new case studies page, looking at the remarkable work of many organisations, as well as the challenges they face. One of these is Cardiff’s Birth Partner Project, which offers support to pregnant people seeking sanctuary.


The Birth Partner Project is a Cardiff-based charity, providing birth partners to pregnant women and birthing people seeking sanctuary, who would otherwise face pregnancy, birth and the first few weeks with their newborn baby alone.

Each woman or birthing person is supported by a small team of three or four volunteer birth partners, who meet together from week 34 of the pregnancy onwards, to build friendships and provide practical information and emotional support in the lead up to the birth.

When labour begins, the team provides 24-hour support using a rota system to ensure that the woman or birthing person has someone with them at all times. After birth, volunteers continue to meet weekly with mum and baby for a further eight weeks, offering additional support and making sure they have everything they need.

Volunteer Birth Partners provide non-medical, emotional and practical support, comfort measures and a positive, nurturing presence, as well as information and signposting to assist with access to other relevant support during this period.

In addition to partnering women and birthing people during labour and birth, TBPP provides a weekly drop-in service focusing on access to health information and services as well as wellbeing activities.


The Birth Partner Project has a strong track record of working with women and birthing people seeking sanctuary in Cardiff, from its inception as a registered CIO in 2018 and for two years prior. The women and birthing people it supports are all displaced by conflict and/or persecution, and are all seeking sanctuary. The charity support people who have been trafficked, who are survivors of domestic violence, and who are victims of abuse against women and girls.

Lone pregnant asylum-seekers often arrive in Cardiff during their pregnancy and are forced to navigate a new city and new health system alone.

As recognised by the Royal College of Midwives in their 2022 position statement:

‘Migrant pregnant women are a diverse group at risk of disproportionately worse maternal and perinatal outcomes. They often face multiple barriers to care…’

This echoes the recent findings of the Birthrights inquiry into racial inequality which highlighted the impact of the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, and immigration status on maternity outcomes. The Mothers and Babies: Reducing Risk through Audits and Confidential Enquiries 2022 report found that Black women are four times more likely, and Asian women twice as likely, to die than white women as a result of childbirth. The specific needs and circumstances of this diverse demographic group can result in maternal isolation, loneliness, mental ill health, and poor health outcomes including near misses and neo-natal death.


The Birth Partner Project uses an outcomes framework which includes a series of pre and post-engagement questions (a self-reporting tool) which is fully accessible for those who do not speak English and/or are not literate in their own language. The 2022/23 figures show:

  • 100% of women and birthing people BPP supported felt improvement in their mental wellbeing having the project alongside them
  • 90% of women and birthing people felt they were listened to and their voice was heard
  • 83% of women and birthing people were more aware of their rights and choices in terms of birth and labour
  • 71% of women and birthing people felt more confident in looking after their new babies and how to access support if they needed it
  • 85% of women and birthing people felt a reduced sense of loneliness and isolation

During 2022-23, the charity increased the numbers of women and birthing people, and babies they supported, and successfully piloted and evaluated a drop-in service (which is now fully funded to take place weekly until November 2025). The drop-in service has seen a reduction in isolation for the participants as well as a significant number of referrals into specialist teams such as Perinatal Mental Health, Psychological therapies, complex care teams and more.

The Birth Partner Project’s 2023 Impact Report gives more detail about the charity, and what it achieves.


You can read more about the Birth Partner Project, as well as case studies from many other organisations, at our new case studies page.