June 17, 2019 by admin
HMSC’s volunteer Rachel has been meeting with current and former visitors in order to write case studies and give everyone a better sense of what visitors go through. Here is Briony’s story*.
(*Not real name)
I used to come to the UK from my country to visit. A few years ago, I came to stay. I met someone and became pregnant, but suddenly found myself destitute and homeless.
At the antenatal clinic, a woman saw me sobbing – she took me in, provided me with food and supported me in so many ways. I was staying on a sofa bed in the living room. I was also having to go to a food bank. My friend would give me £10 from time to time.
Once my baby was born, I had to move out. I had nowhere to go. I was on the bus when I heard two women talking in my dialect – they were talking about the migrant centre, and I asked them more about it.
HMSC welcomed me with open arms. My parish priest came with me. He helped me too.
The Welfare Advisor referred me to social services. She made me aware that it would be a difficult process – she prepared me. My parish priest came with me to the meeting with social services. An immigration officer was there too. Unfortunately, social services refused to help me. HMSC helped me access legal aid so that I could get a solicitor – when the solicitor took the matter up, the local authority provided us with accommodation.
The father of my daughter is British, so the barrister at HMSC helped me to apply for a British passport for her.
I then applied for a fee waiver which meant I could apply for leave to remain. It took over a year and some help from my local MP – but eventually I was able to get limited leave to remain.
My daughter is now 4 and has additional needs. I will fight for her. I have to accept the way she is, although it’s not easy. It has not been easy and it is still not easy. I have to be strong for her. Everything depends on me.
In my country I was a qualified teacher. To teach here in the UK, I would need to do another course. But studying here is expensive – I would have to pay overseas student fees because I have limited leave to remain. So for now I am doing a 6 month online course about special educational needs. I’ll do another one after this. I want to find out as much as I can.
HMSC have supported us emotionally, spiritually, in all aspects. It was through them we managed to get all the necessary help. They’ve been a great help to us. I brought somebody here to HMSC. I said whenever you have a problem, they will know what to do. They are the people in that profession. They are here to help us. Just listen to them and they will show you the way. Make sure you tell them the truth. When you come to HMSC they are not there to arrest you. They are there to listen and help.