The roots of the Baytree Centre lie on a different site in the early 1980s. This was a time of great social unrest in the area, and the need to focus on improving the lives of families within the Brixton area was evident: Lambeth Council – with the help of Fr Hugh Thwaites – set up a centre near the Moorlands Road Estate in order to support local women and girls.
When Lambeth Council’s funding came to an end, Fr Thwaites continued to provide space and support, relying on volunteers to run the operation. The centre became increasingly popular, illustrating the need for more substantial provision to meet the educational, social and cultural needs of families in the area.
In 1986 Fr Thwaites approached Dawliffe Hall Educational Foundation (DHEF) for their help in continuing the much needed work. DHEF is a registered charity that promotes the all-round personal development of women and girls through education and training in accordance with Christian values; their belief in and commitment to the work that Fr Thwaites had started prompted them to purchase a derelict warehouse on the Brixton Road. With the help of volunteers and donors, step by step the building was renovated.
The roots of the Baytree Centre went deep, and since then we have grown and thrived on the Brixton Road, helping and supporting hundreds of women and girls each year. New technologies, different governments and various other social initiatives have come and gone – but sadly the needs of local vulnerable women and girls have changed little since those early days 25 years ago – Baytree’s work is as necessary today as it was back in the 1980s.