Founder of the Only Giving Back Unconditionally Collective (OGBU) Chimna Orji talks about latest project ‘Haven Nurture’, a retreat supporting single mothers

Recognising the need for single mothers to have that much needed mental, emotional and spiritual support, the Only Giving Back Unconditionally Colllective, fronted by Chimna Orji have returned with their second project, Haven Nurture, a relaxing escape for young single mothers. Taking place at the Battersea Arts Centre, the therapeutic event will continue on with OGBU’s mission of supporting their local community, having previously created care packages for NHS workers during the pandemic last year. Ahead of the retreat this year, Chimna tells us more about this very thoughtful initiative!

Hi Chimna, your organisation The OGBU Collective have teamed up with Battersea Arts Centre to create Haven Nurture a relaxing escape for single mothers on Saturday 23 October. How are you feeling ahead of the event?

Excited. From previous experience I know there’s a lot of prep to do still, but I can’t wait to make it happen. I’ve just started my final year of Uni too. I know that will be quite a big burden on my time so I’m thinking carefully about managing both and keeping on top of everything.

What can the mothers taking part expect from the event?

Around 20 other single mothers (18-26yrs) living in and around the Battersea areawill be coming down.

I’m curating an escape for them, themed on wellbeing and self-care and the importance of looking after yourself. They don’t get to escape much, with the responsibilities of being a mother. That’s a lot to take on for someone who’s young.

The event acknowledges the daily sacrifices of single mothers, considering the extra obstacles faced by young single mothers during these challenging times. Why are you focusing on this community for this event?

I’m not a mum but quite a few of my friends from school now have young kids. From social media I can see into their everyday lives. I see how they’ve grown and matured and how hard they’ve worked. Their experiences aren’t reflected in the news or the media more widely.

I feel like it’s well documented that they get good housing, but that’s not the whole story. The processis hard and tough. A friend was told to move outside of London in order to be re-housed, but that would mean leaving behind her family and entire support system.

This event is for me to understand how their world works, their daily struggles. They have the opportunity to express all that and the event is me amplifying that.I’ll speak to you, listen to you 1:1and then react and campaign with you. When you learn and when you have wisdom in that particular topic then the knowledge is great and useful.  It’s a different approach.

What does it mean to be able to stage this event live?

I’m so excited to be doing this event live and in person. Connectingwith people in the same room can be so powerful. Getting to share theexperience, the wisdom and knowledge of great people first hand, and help you to realise you’re not alone.It’s made me think that as The OGBU Collectivegrows and plans more projects for the local community, I want us to specialise in live events.

How have you approached organising the event?

The way I think of each new project is to think about the community around me. We are far from a perfect country. You just turn on the news and speak to people in your area and you can see where the need is and where people are struggling and what you can do to help.

When I decide on that, I look at who’s in my network and who can support me. Who I can approach to help out, bring in knowledge, input where I don’t necessarily have the experience in that field.For example, I’ve babysat for my auntie before but have no idea of the daily struggles! One of my friends runs a business called Nurturing TheFuture– teaching new parents about parenthood, giving tips and tricks and what to expect, advising on products that are beneficial to toddlers and children. So I’ve collaborated with her on what the event will look like and what the people coming might appreciate or need to know.

This is The OGBU Collective’s second project focusing on giving back to the community, the first project focused on delivering personalised care packages to NHS staff. What have you taken away from the first project and how has it helped to shape this current project?

It’s highlighted more than ever that thethings people need to care for themselves are completely different to each community. No one size fits all. A nurse doesn’t have all the same needs as a young mum with a toddler running around.

I found that it’s definitely beneficial to speak to different people within the community that you’re thinking about. Eg.For the NHS care packages project, I reached out to the people behind the scenes in admin roles, as well as those on the frontline.

What are your hopes for the event?

I’m hoping the young women will be able to enjoy themselves, escape, see the event as a safe space, and importantly build up their own networks. I hope the women see it as that, their opinion matters most. They’re a hugely important part of this society and I want to reward them and give them a pat on the back. Let them know their graft doesn’t go unnoticed.

Chimna Orji is founder of The OGBU Collective (Only Giving Back Unconditionally). This event will take place at Battersea Arts Centre, as part of the autumn OverCome season.

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

Haven Nuture will take place on Saturday 23rd October 2021 at the Battersea Arts Centre. To find out more about the retreat, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop