She met a man. He promised her a new life. She followed him half way round the world to Europe. They had children and the violence started. She knew he had a temper, but perhaps it was her fault. Life in this strange country was bewildering. Perhaps she didn’t cook the food he liked. Perhaps she embarrassed him in front of his friends. Perhaps the children didn’t behave the way he expected. She could never get the hang of it. The abuse got worse.
Of course it wasn’t her fault. She told him that she would leave him. He laughed and said that she couldn’t because they would deport her back home. She had to stay with him if she wanted the kids to grow up in Britain. In the end, she called his bluff and walked out with the kids. She had to keep them safe.
The domestic violence charity which she turned to sorted out emergency accommodation through the local authority. They helped her apply for leave under the domestic violence concession. It all fell apart. She was caught between the ink. She’d never had a valid visa, so she wasn’t eligible for leave as a victim of abuse. The local authority argued that she had residence rights in another EU country. They denied any duty to her and prepared to evict her and the children from her temporary accommodation. The charity was desperate. If they couldn’t find somewhere fast, a woman and her tiny children were going to be on the streets. They found Thousand 4 1000 online. They sent us an email. As luck would have it, we had been offered the use of a large one-bedroom flat. We were able to provide a home for the family. They needed support, money for a nursery, legal advice and something to live off, but generous donations to the destitution solidarity fund facilitated that.
With a stable base, she was able, with support, to challenge the council’s refusal to provide subsistence payments. The children are in school and nursery. She found a lawyer to take on her case. She should be granted Leave to Remain, although an application for leave can take years. The family are well on their way to a secure and stable home in Brighton.
This is the reality of the “hostile environment”. Combating it requires a communal response. We need to work together to support each other to make sure that no one, least of a child under five, has to sleep on the streets simply because they came from somewhere else. That’s exactly what Thousand 4 1000 does and will do more of as we continue to grow. Thank you for your support.