South Asian Women's Refuge - Yasmin
Yasmin (not her real name) is a 30-year-old Bangladeshi woman with young children. She experienced significant domestic abuse from her husband, which had also escalated towards her two girls.
“My life was very lonely and chaotic; I never knew when the abuse would start or end. All I wanted to do was to keep my children safe, but I didn’t know how. I thought leaving my home situation would lead to my children being taken away from me, removed into care.
"I had come to the UK on a spouse visa, but I wasn’t aware that I could apply for leave to remain, so I felt very unsettled. I arrived at Stonewater’s South Asian Women’s Refuge (SAWR), where I was linked in with an immigration solicitor who applied for the Victims of Domestic Violence (VDV) concession.
"I have received a lot of support whilst at SAWR, not only did the team make sure I had access to food and clothing for me and my children but they have also supported me in moving forward. I have received support with immigration advice, support with benefits including universal credit, child benefit and housing benefit and with health-related matters such as health visitors and registering with a GP. I have also benefited from increased awareness of my rights and responsibilities through legal workshops provided in the refuge by solicitors which were focused on forced marriage protection orders, non-molestation orders and other related issued.
"I have now received my UK Residence Card and a National Insurance number which has enabled me to access Universal Credit.
"It’s been great to be able to also take part in a variety of wellbeing initiatives such as the pottery workshop and yoga classes which have really improved my mental and physical wellbeing. My children have also been supported with play sessions, trips and outings with a children’s worker, and they helped me to enrol my youngest child with pre-school.
"When we moved to the refuge it was because I needed somewhere safe for me and my children to stay. I have had a lot of support every day. Thanks to this guidance, legal and emotional support, we have settled into refuge life and have done so many things. I’ve completed an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) course, helping me towards working by developing and practising work-related skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening so I understand more about going to work and feel more confident. I’m working with solicitors to help with my divorce. The refuge has helped us to feel free and I am looking forward to moving on with my children safely.”