2013 Young Woman of the Year Honorary Award – Emina Hadziosmanovic

Emina Hadziosmanovic was a young child when she fled to the UK in 1992 to escape the siege of her home town Sarajevo. She and her family started a new life in Birmingham, and although Emina was settling in and doing very well in school, as she was growing up she was increasingly aware of the painful Bosnian history she had fled from.

During her education Emina discovered a passion for psychology, which enabled her to understand her fellow Bosnians’ war trauma, something which she has witnessed on a daily basis through her work with many Bosnian refugees at the Bosnia Herzegovina UK Network  (BH UK Network) in Birmingham.

Emina has provided outreach support to elderly and disabled refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, most of whom still do not have basic English language skills. Emina has supported more than 300 clients and their families, often ‘out-of-hours’ and sometimes this has included lengthy hospital visits for terminally-ill clients.

She has noticed that almost more important than solving people’s practical problems is having empathy and listening to their stories.

Emina has also assisted other younger members of the community and has encouraged and supported them to access further training, education or employment. She has also actively recruited volunteers for the BH UK Network to help young people improve their employability skills through work placements; some volunteers have subsequently entered paid employment.

After completing an MSc in Psychological Research at Oxford University, Emina embarked on a PhD in clinical psychology examining the mental health impacts of the Bosnian war. In 2012 she was awarded a Rayne Fellowship for refugees, a bursary and training that will further her work with refugee groups in the UK affected by trauma. This will involve a new type of therapy (for the first time in the UK), which aims to reduce symptoms of PSTD, depression, and anxiety.

Her long term aim is to set up an organisation to pioneer the use of Narrative Exposure Therapy for refugees from all countries of origin in need of therapeutic support.

Emina has also written a novel about her experience of exile and integration and is looking for a publisher. She won the Avril Bruten Award for Creative Writing at Oxford University in 2010, for the chapter from her novel, which is available here.

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