Our History

“Serving Our Communities Since 1991”

The journey started in September 1991 with a few Hackney GPs and a few staff in a small room of Lawson Practice.

Derman, a registered charity and company limited by guarantee, was set up in Hackney in 1991 by members of the Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Kurdish communities in partnership with local GPs and the health authority. Its aim was to provide bilingual health advocacy to enable our newly arrived community members to access urgently needed health services. Formerly known as Health Advocacy and Counselling Services for Kurdish, Turkish and Turkish Cypriot Communities.

Despite the undoubted challenges ahead, there remains great potential for DERMAN to make a positive difference to life in Turkish, Kurdish, Turkish Cypriot and EU Turkish communities in the coming years.

Working collaboratively with other voluntary agencies to build consortia or alliances.

derman main photo-new

Since 1991 Derman has grown and thrived. Looking back, we are thrilled over our achievements
and feel very proud that an organisation that started in a small room in a GP surgery in 1991 has managed to develop so many valuable services for Kurdish, Turkish and Turkish Cypriot communities.

Derman now provides a range of health and well-being related services to Kurdish, Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and EU Turkish people. Each year we deal with more than 10,000 requests for help mainly in Hackney, but other London boroughs as well depending on funding/funders’ specifications.

Here is the story of Derman year by year with key achievements and changes over the years:

September 1991

  • Health Advocacy Services for Turkish and Kurdish speaking communities was set up in Hackney by members of the Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Kurdish communities in partnership with local GPs and the health authority. The aim was to provide bilingual health advocacy to enable our newly arrived community members to access urgently needed
    health services.
  • Yıldız Biray and Ahmet Kocaman became the first employees of the organisation.


  • Counselling Service started. Offering a bilingual and culturally sensitive counselling to Turkish, Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Hackney whose understanding and expression of emotional distress is addressed within the
    context of their own cultural background.


  • Mental Health Conference held. The event was very successful in highlighting main mental health issues for our communities.
  • The Health Fair organised to promote a healthier life style for the Turkish and
    Kurdish Communities. The variety of services presented to the community, such as
    healthy eating advice, breast screening, support and advice for those who wish to give up smoking, information on contraceptive methods, dental services, physical exercise.
  • We incorporated as a company


  • Changed our name to Health Advocacy and Counselling Services for Turkish and Kurdish speaking communities.
  • We registered as a charity
  • New projects added.
  • The activities of the organisation diversified into exciting new projects including the
    Healthy Hearts Project, the Sexual Health Project with Statham Grove Surgery and the Turkish/Kurdish Refugee Mental Health Adolescent Mental Health Project.


  • We began to expand our services/projects. First business and action plan developed.
  • Hear Our Voice Project– Video project, discussing issues of culture, identity, family
    and other social relationships. A video was produced to highlight the issues affecting the mental well being of Turkish/Kurdish refugee adolescents. 50 young people had participated.
  • Parenting Project (pilot) – Addressed and investigated the nature and extent of the difficulties faced by Turkish/Kurdish in bringing up children in the UK.


  • Algın Saydar was appointed as the new manager/director (part-time). New services continued to be developed in response to the emerging needs of our communities.
  • Mental Health Support Team was set up.
  • The Welfare Rights and Benefit Service started.
  • Smoking Cessation Service started to help people to give up smoking for health improvement.


    • It is our 10th year anniversary. New name, new office, bigger organisation
      (8 services, 18 staff)
    • New name: DERMAN for the wellbeing of the Kurdish and Turkish Communities
    • A full time Director

New services:

  • Derman Education Advocacy – Offered to Kurdish and Turkish parents, children and their schools to help them raise the educational achievement.
  • Derman Probation Support – Aimed to work with offenders in our communities
    and those release from prison to stop them from re-offending.


  • Derman in Haringey
  • Haringey Derman Bridge Project started. This pilot project took our expertise in making health and related services accessible and appropriate to the Kurdish, Turkish and Turkish Cypriot communities in Haringey Borough by providing bi-lingual health advocacy service.
  • Teenage Pregnancy project started.


  • Expanded services for a growing need. We started laying the foundations of a stronger, a more efficient and effective Derman by organising our work into teams. (Health Advocacy and Mental Health Teams)


  • Major changes in the commissioning and provision of Health Advocacy Services in Hackney.
  • Education Advocacy Service came to the end.
  • The Probation Support work also came to an end after 3 very successful years.


  • Mental Health Conference held– We organised a very instructive conference to mark World Mental Health Day. The focus was on suicides amongst men in Turkish/Kurdish communities. The key message was suicide is preventable.
  • Voice of Men – We also introduced the brief research Derman had conducted
    amongst men on the subject.


  • Derman leads the way in a number of areas. One of them is user involvement.
  • Our Mental Health work expanded to include Mental Health Outreach alongside Mental
    Health Support. Our counselling provision proved to be an indispensable service for our communities.
  • Our Advocacy Services reached again phenomenal numbers. We provided service to
    10,756 individuals which is culminated in 17,812 contacts in Hackney and Haringey.
  • Expert Patient Programme designed, organised and run successfully in Haringey.
    This self management course specifically designed for Turkish Speaking Communities.
    It aimed to give people the confidence, skills and knowledge to manage their condition
    better and be more in control of their lives.


  • We organised a Parenting Conference. The parents who attended a minimum
    of 3 of our Parenting Classes were awarded with a Certificate of attendance.
  • The Parenting Book, as a guide at the end of the project in Turkish called Bringing up Children covering all the topics dealt with through the parenting classes, lunched.
  • New project – Counselling service for children and young people. We offered early interventions to Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot children and young people and their
    families in order to prevent deterioration in emotional wellbeing.
  • Lots of work on our infrastructure. Developed and updated our policies and procedures including employment conditions. Database system set up, IT system upgraded.
    Website improved and updated.
  • The Parenting Service came to an end due to lack of funding.
  • Health Advocacy and Counselling Services came to an end in Haringey due to lack of funding.


  • First Derman Newsletter – To maximise Derman’s reputation we have published Newsletters to provide information on Derman services, seminars, awareness sessions, activities and trainings.
  • Derman provided a culturally specific consultancy service for L.B. Hackney’s Children & Young People’s services.
  • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)– We delivered 5 training courses, which is a two-day course for people who want to know how to support someone with mental distress. The courses were provided to frontline workers across Hackney with the partnership of Shoreditch Spa.
  • Drugs and Alcohol work project to increase awareness and knowledge of drugs and alcohol issues among the Kurdish, Turkish and Turkish Cypriot young people aged 12-24 and their families in Hackney.
  • Counselling for Problem Gambling-Partnership work with GamCare started to help overcome gambling problem in Turkish, Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot communities.
  • New Business Plan drafted
  • An External Evaluation of Derman was carried out. “Users express a high level of satisfaction with the service. Professionals comment that it would be impossible to give a good service to members of the Kurdish, Turkish and Turkish Cypriot communities
    without support that Derman provides.”
  • Derman has gained a reputation for providing high quality services for Kurdish,
    Turkish and Turkish Cypriot people since its foundation in 1991.
  • We said good bye to Algin Saydar (manager, director, CEO) as she retired and we said
    hello to Nursel Tas as she became the new CEO of Derman.


  • It is our 20th year anniversary.
  • Derman makes a difference – Derman is one of the most established community organisation. We have deep roots in the community.
  • New Project – Domestic Violence Outreach and Support : We provided service to improve the lives of victims of domestic violence, forced marriage and honour based violence within the Turkish, Kurdish and Turkish Cypriot communities.
  • We achieved Healthy Hackney Standard Award by Shoreditch Spa.


  • Derman faces its hardest period in its history. We are faced with double whammy.
    On the one hand Cuts; on the other hand growing needs of people.
  • The structural reforms within the NHS will have an impact on the voluntary sector.


  • Derman has achieved the PQASSO quality mark. PQASSO (Practical Quality
    Assurance System) is the leading quality standard developed for the third sector.
    Achieving PQASSO level one provides a reflection of the high quality or services
    offered by Derman and the ways in which the organization is managed.
  • Derman also received a Community Award from the Centre for Turkey Studies and Development. Derman was nominated for this award by members of the public and it is an acknowledgement of our reputation for providing high quality services since 1991
    to the Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot Turkish Communities.

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