Ella’s story

Ella* was a teenager when she moved from Ghana to the UK. She came here with her mum and siblings to join her dad who had moved here some years previously. Once here, she studied at college and was working too. However, when Ella’s visa expired, it meant she couldn’t study or work anymore.

Ella’s partner was supportive when she became pregnant, and promised to help regularise her immigration status, but this didn’t happen. She was scared of going to see the midwife, and because of this she booked in late. Luckily, the baby was developing well. Ella gave birth two months later. When things became difficult with her partner, Ella and her baby had to move back in with her parents and siblings.

When Ella’s son turned 10, he acquired British citizenship, which meant that Ella was eligible to apply for leave to remain on a 10 year route. HMSC helped Ella make the application, and she was recently granted limited leave to remain for 30 months. Ella will have to reapply again when this is due to expire and then make two further applications until she reaches 10 years.

Providing for her son has been very difficult. For example, he was not entitled to free school meals, which meant Ella depended on financial help from her mum to pay for school lunches.

Ella feels bad that her son can’t invite friends round to play because of the lack of space, and that she hasn’t been able to take him on holiday.

Applying for leave to remain was a huge financial challenge, and Ella had to ask her mum to help with the cost.

Being granted leave to remain has been a huge relief to Ella:

“I’m so happy that it came – at least I can get a proper job and take care of my son properly. I’ve been given public funds. It’s a great opportunity. I can be independent. You know you are free to do whatever you want to do. You can travel, you can work. It’s like this burden is lifted off. When you have no recourse to public funds, you can’t go to the authorities and ask for financial help. You are limited.”

HMSC have been a lifeline to Ella and her son:“We have not had help from anyone else. We go to church, but we didn’t really tell anyone about our difficulties. Sometimes when you tell people, they can’t help. HMSC helped me – they gave me advice. They’ve been really, really helpful. I wasn’t sure if I’d get help. After I got advice, I was a bit calmer. Now I know that the future is going to be good.”

(*Not real name)

This case study was written by HMSC’s volunteer Rachel, who has been meeting with current and former visitors to give everyone a better sense of what visitors go through.

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