A refugee from Zimbabwe, when Mary first arrived in the UK she stayed with different friends, picking up odd jobs like ironing, cleaning and childcare to get by. For a time, she lived with her brother, his wife and three children in their two-bedroom flat in Luton. But the cramped conditions were hard on everyone and when her brother’s marriage began to breakdown, Mary decided it was time to move on.
With nowhere to go, she spent a long time moving between temporary charity accommodations. This was really tough for Mary, who suffers from complicated long term health issues. The moving meant constantly changing doctors and it became incredibly difficult to manage her condition and get hold of prescriptions.
She explains, “I was already ill and the way I was living, my blood pressure was getting higher – something I’m really afraid of.” In September 2019, Mary came to our Manse House women’s shelter which, at last, gave her some stability.
We helped her to register with a GP and restart her asylum claim, which had fallen by the wayside amidst all the upheaval. As a next step, Mary was meant to be moving into permanent government accommodation – but then the pandemic hit, putting everything on hold. She stayed at Manse House for the first weeks of the first lockdown in 2020, then, she moved into hotel provision under the government’s Everybody In initiative. Hackney Doorways continued to support with regular calls, food vouchers and phone credits, while working towards longer term living arrangements.
Mary is now safely living in government accommodation while she waits for a final decision on her claim for asylum.
* Guest names have been changed to protect their identity