The Renewal Programmes Refugee & Migrant Project

Having an uncertain immigration status affects every area of your life and if you are experiencing violence at home, it can make it even difficult to get the support you need.

Rekha came to the UK on a student visa in 2007 and returned to India in 2010 to get married. She was ostracised by her family because they didn’t approve of her husband and didn’t want her to marry him.

Rekha came back to the UK and her husband joined her in 2011. Soon after moving in together her husband became physically, verbally and sexually abusive. She discovered that her husband was an alcoholic and tried to get him all the necessary help to deal with his addiction. Unfortunately, his drinking habit started to worsen, as did the abuse.

Rekha hoped that her husband would change and had no family to turn to; she lived with the abuse for a number of years. During this time, she had two children who began to witness their father’s abuse of Rekha.

Rekha was ten weeks pregnant when she came to the Renewal Programme with her two children. She had her brought her most important belongings with her and told us that she could not go home as there had been another serious episode of violence and she feared for her life. Rekha was advised to report the incident to the police and to inform her GP.

Through our Refugee and Migrant Project, we spent time liaising with social services to assist Rekha and her children under the Children’s Act 1989. Unfortunately, social services were unable to provide assistance as she had not placed an application to the Home Office for leave to remain. As a result, we supported Rekha through our food bank and clothes donations and assisted Rekha to apply for a welfare grant from South West Ham Children’s Society.

We directed Rekha to one of the law firms with which we work and they provided pro-bono immigration advice allowing Rekha to make her claim for Asylum. Social services are now in the process of providing accommodation and financial assistance.

Rekha has since given birth to a healthy baby, and mother and baby are doing well. Rekha no longer lives in fear of violence and says that the Renewal Programme has empowered her to take action to protect herself and her children.

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