Church Homeless Trust supports asylum seekers in partnership with Housing Justice.
While applying for asylum, people are not allowed to work or claim benefits, essentially making them homeless and destitute. Host families provide a room and board, and Church Homeless Trust provides a small grant so that they have money for day to day expenses. One of these asylum seekers is Zahara*.
Zahara agreed to an arranged marriage, and left her family and small business in Ethiopia to move to the UK. But her new husband became increasingly violent. He made her move out of their home, and would not let her back into their house.
She passed her NVQ in social care while living in a women’s refuge, but couldn’t afford to rent on her own. Her husband would not speak to her.
After several months, she returned to Kenya when her mother became ill. When she tried to re-enter the UK, she was told that her spousal visa had been cancelled. She was sent to an immigrant detention centre and became very ill: not eating, struggling with depression, and taking medication to help her sleep.
She bounced between friends’ living rooms and a refugee centre. At one point she ended up sleeping rough around Leicester Square. This was terrifying for her.
Housing Justice found her a place with a host home. Her host became a second mother to her, and she began to have hope for her future. Before this, she had considered suicide and couldn’t see a way out.
Zahara now has leave to remain and is enjoying working in hospitality. She is studying to realise her dream of becoming a nurse.