Our History

Set up in 1986 by Olga Heaven MBE, Hibiscus Initiatives (Hibiscus) is a voluntary sector organisation with a track record of delivering high-quality services for over 30 years.

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In 1986, Olga Heaven set up Hibiscus and started to work with Nigerian and Jamaican women inside Holloway and Cookham Wood Prisons. Hibiscus quickly connected with networks in Nigeria and Jamaica and helped to reduce women’s lengthy prison sentences through providing pre-sentence reports. Hibiscus supported children and families while their mothers were imprisoned

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Hibiscus received Lottery funding in 1994. This grant allowed us to get an office space in London where women were welcomed to receive community support. The number of women being trafficked for drug purposes continued to increase. Hibiscus worked to raise awareness through plays such as ‘Mules 1996’

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Hibiscus also started working at HMP Bronzefield in 2004 and later expanded to HMP Peterborough and Downview. Hibiscus launched our most impactful campaign ‘Eva Goes to Foreign’ with an animated film, posters, stickers and comics to raise awareness among women and children in West Africa and the Caribbean of the dangers and impact of drug smuggling. This campaign started in Nigeria in 2002-3, Jamaica in 2005, and Ghana and Trinidad in 2006-7.

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Hibiscus obtained a contract to work inside immigration removal centres in 2012, offering resettlement support to women and men, including a Specialist Welfare Service for vulnerable women and tailored support for families at the Pre-Departure Accommodation.

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In 2016 the Women’s Centre, a women-only safe space where activities and workshops are run, opened its doors with the financial support of the Big Lottery Fund. New projects have been developed at Hibiscus in recent years such as supporting women at courts, the Wrap Around and Diversion projects, the Cultural Mediation project and the anti-trafficking work.

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In 2021, Hibiscus celebrated its 35th Anniversary. Our work remains vital for migrant women, which is why a new strategy is being developed to continue the incredible work done over the years.

We wish to thank all our funders whose support is vital to our work Our Funders