Our Projects Refugee and Migrant Project Testimonials Tami "Were it not for the Renewal Programme, I just don't know where I would be." Tami fled to the UK from Malawi as a teenager after her parents and brother were murdered. Her former partner is also from Malawi; they met in the UK and had children together. Sadly the relationship did not work out. Tami had no idea how to legalise her position in the UK and lived in constant fear. She came to the Renewal Programme and we supported Tami to make applications to the Home Office for her and her children. Tami was very upset that her situation meant she found it difficult to provide her children with some basic necessities, such as food and shoes. The Renewal programme became a source of friendship and support for Tami and we provided Tami with basic supplies from our foodbank and clothing for her children. She was pleased that her daughter would have sufficient food to take to school for packed lunch and suitable shoes to wear. Tami has recently won her appeal to the Home Office and is looking forward to being able to live and work in the UK. Tami said: “I’m so grateful for everything, for all the support, the food, the clothes, over the last 7 years. If it were not for the Renewal Programme, I just don’t know where I would be or how I would have coped.” Olu "I am now optimistic for the future." Olu came from Nigeria in 2005 and faced many challenges due to his immigration status. Olu was exploited by employers who paid him very little money for various jobs but he felt he had no choice but to continue to work for poverty wages. Eventually, Olu’s marriage broke down and suddenly he became a single parent. Olu was unable to work and turned to his local church who provided him with shelter and emotional support. His church then referred Olu to the Renewal Programme as it could no longer provide financial support to him and his children. At the Renewal Programme, we work closely with a network of churches, mosques and other location organisations who provide many kinds of support to people in the community in Newham. Once he came to the Renewal Programme, Olu was assessed by a caseworker with the Refugee and Migrant Project and referred to our weekly food bank. He was also advised to join the English and Maths classes provided by the Renewal Programme, to help him improve his workplace skills. His caseworker referred him to South West Ham Children’s Society for a grant to buy essential items for his children, and referred him to Social Services to be assessed, as the family did not have adequate accommodation nor financial means to support themselves. Olu was awarded a £300 Children’s Society Grant and Social Services provided him with accommodation and some financial assistance. Subsequently, Olu was granted leave-to-remain in UK and he continues to make his home in Newham with his children. The Renewal Programme’s support continued for four weeks after his leave-to-remain was approved so that he and his children were properly supported until his welfare benefits were in place. Olu plans to enrol in college for further studies as his English and Maths have improved through attending The Renewal Programme’s adult education classes. He now feels optimistic for the future and feels he has been hugely empowered by services provided by The Renewal Programme. Rekha "Now I can protect myself and my children." 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 with 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. Please note that all names have been changed for privacy.