'The thing that would make the most difference is a home. It’s part of being human, isn’t it? And to be allowed to work, because I know I can support my children.
Amira and her children have lived in one room in a hotel for more than six months, placed there by social services after fleeing domestic violence. They have a small cooker, fridge and sink in their room, and use a shared bathroom. Amira’s visa status means she’s not allowed to work apart from in her own business, and she’s not eligible to receive benefits or free school meals for her children. Because of the domestic violence, she’s been unable to run her business, so the family has no income. The children’s primary school referred them to our food bank.
‘The most important thing for me is my children and when they ask, ‘Mum, why did you leave our house, why did you give us this life?’ it’s so hard. When their friends want to come to our home, they say, ‘What are we going to say? We don’t have any home – we live in a hotel’.
‘Social services don’t help us with any finances because I’ve got no recourse [to public funds]. The social worker could only help when I was really, really desperate. Two times she’s given me Sainsbury’s vouchers – £70 and £40 – but that’s all.
‘When I came to the food bank, I met Sylwia [Foodbank Adviser] and she helps me with so many things. She’s finding where I can get free immigration and family advice. She found Project 17 [charity] which is going to help me with social services to try to get housing, and to solve my visa situation so I can work. The social worker said they don’t have any homes locally. I wanted to be near where I have support, where my friends are, where my children are at school. If I need to go somewhere to get advice, my friend takes care of my children. At the hotel, I can’t leave my children alone, even my teenager, because the manager says it’s not safe here. The thing that would make the most difference is a home. It’s part of being human, isn’t it? And to be allowed to work, because I know I can support my children.’