Introducing: Latin American Women’s Rights Services

The Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) was set up more than 33 years ago with the aim of supporting Latin American migrant and refugee women to assert their rights and to facilitate the tools for them to pursue personal development and social change.

LAWRS provides holistic support to Latin American migrant women in the UK which according to Towards Visibility (Queen Mary University, 2016) (https://www.trustforlondon.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Towards-Visibility-full-report.pdf)  is the second fastest growing non-EU migrant group in the UK with many Latin American women coming from Spain, Portugal and Italy while others come directly from Latin America. Many women are EU nationals, while others come with on a visa or become undocumented.

In 2015/16 we provided direct holistic support in Spanish, Portuguese and English to 5,073 women in different ways including:

  • A large programme on violence against women and girls (VAWG) including prevention activities, casework and legal advise to women survivors of VAWG including domestic violence, sexual violence, trafficking, etc
  • Advice and casework on combatting poverty including welfare benefits, housing and money and debt.
  • One to one counselling and psychotherapy services and crisis intervention for migrant women survivors of VAWG
  • Joint surgeries on employment law, family law, immigration and access to Tribunal for welfare support
  • Drop in services in Islington and Haringey.

We also focus our work to ensure that Latin American women can develop their potential and achieve their goals through:

  • ESOL and other English classes for Latin American women
  • An employability programme for women to improve their employment and move away from low skilled/low paid jobs to jobs more in accordance to their skills and qualifications
  • A young women programme called “Sin Fronteras” for Latin American young women and girls to develop their aspirations and carry their individual and social actions through art
  • An older women programme to support older Latin American women
  • Outreach work in areas with high presence of Latin American women with alternative premises in Southwark and Haringey.
  • Workshops, group work and focus groups on women’s rights, labour rights, self esteem and many other topics
  • Ongoing group work such as yoga, zumba, mindfulness and others.

LAWRS also does strategic policy and advocacy work on migrant women workers rights which is integral to our agenda as we think that services should go hand-in hand with policy work. Our policy and advocacy work focuses on all migrant women and not only on Latin American.

We support many women who are pregnant or new mothers, many of them survivors of VAWG. Our support is holistic responding to their particular needs in accordance to individual cases.

We also have a joint programme with Citizens UK called Espacio Mama for pregnant women and new mothers that provides women with pregnant women with practical and other types of support.

Latin American migrant women who are pregnant or new mothers experience many challenges as a result of multiple discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, nationality and pregnancy. Many of the women that come to us being pregnant, are survivors or at risk of VAWG, and need immediate support. Not being able to speak English makes their situation more precarious and highlights the need for specialist services in Spanish and Portuguese. Many others are undocumented or have no recourse to public funds and this means that they struggle to access services and are often hesitant even to approach them.

More information about LAWRS’ work and our services: www.lawrs.org.uk

Telephone number: 2027 336 0888

Email address: [email protected]