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NOAH Enterprise: Journeying Ahead

NOAH Enterprise is a Luton based charity that provides a practical, empowering and caring service for the most disadvantaged. Nadia’s Story: Journeying Ahead Nadia Abdul* travelled with her daughter from Kenya to the UK in 2015, to live with her husband.  In 2021, her husband left her – he had been both physically and verbally abusive. Disappointingly for her, her daughter decided to live with him and not her. Nadia went to stay with her friend for 2yrs until this personal situation became untenable in July 2023. Nadia had to leave her accommodation but her immigration status was unresolved, meaning she could not get help from the state. She was desperate.  She came to NOAH with her belongings, facing homelessness and in crisis. She was distraught at facing a night on the streets of Luton. At NOAH, she had cups of tea and rested but wouldn’t speak to anyone for 3 days. Finally, she opened up to Ben in the NOAH welfare centre after he gave her time, space and care. He sat and listened as she explained what she had gone through. Ben referred her to the Luton All Women’s Centre as well as the NOAH Mi job project which provides a private room in a friendly shared house, delivering short term accommodation for people who cannot access housing benefit. Nadia was very pleased to move into this project and she was thereafter referred to Maria, the NOAH OISC immigration advisor, for further advice about her status. Both the Mi Job project and Immigration advice services are funded by the Nightshelter Transformation Fund Round 1. In addition to this, Nadia accessed 1-1 NOAH therapy with Betty and completed 8 sessions to help her understand and process her past, and start to make plans for the future. Maria and Betty were upset that Nadia was so utterly broken and could not articulate her words and feelings due to her trauma. She was reclusive and had lost every hope in the processes and systems due to her previous experience. For the last three years her previous lawyer (paid) was unable to understand what to do with her case. Nadia was very hesitant for us to contact this solicitor. However, after lots of assurances, she agreed. Maria made the relevant applications to the Home Office in July. In August she was granted 3 months interim leave to remain which enabled her to claim Universal Credit. Now, within three months, she has been granted her full settlement visa. She is now entitled to live and work in the UK, travel, and claim public funds, including housing benefit. Her biometric card (evidence of her settlement visa) is due to be delivered today. We are able to support and refer her to new pathways, to jobs, and alternative housing. She is no more a person with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). With this change of her circumstance the staff at NOAH saw a visible transformation in Nadia. It is brilliant to reflect that NOAH’s holistic support which comprises of care, time, therapy, welfare, and housing and immigration advice, has prepared a whole new future of independence, wellbeing and confidence for Nadia.  Through the compassion and dedication of Ben, Ella, Betty and Maria, Nadia has the boost that she needs to leave the past behind and journey ahead. To learn more about Noah Enterprise, visit their site: https://noahenterprise.org/  Photograph shared by NOAH Enterprise *The name has been changed for privacy reasons. 

Caritas Westminster: Journey to a Good Life

Caritas Westminster partnered with Mayday Trust to spotlight the voices and experiences of migrants and refugees. When you think of a good life, what does that mean to you? This is the question which volunteer listeners asked over the summer of 2023. The responses made up the report Wisdom from a Journey to a Good Life: Capturing the Voices of People Seeking Sanctuary in the UK. The result of these conversations are 6 recommendations for people working to support people seeking sanctuary in the UK. Caritas Westminster worked with Mayday Trust to produce the report which was collaborative in its design and delivery. 57 people were listened to, and 11 projects and organisations across London and Hertfordshire were involved. Since then, more people, projects and organisations have engaged with the ‘Wisdoms’. Working together led to strengthened links and we heard from some participating organisations that this approach to listening has had an impact on their work moving forwards. Participants in the listening were at many different points in their journey and included people who had newly arrived in an Asylum Hotel, whilst others had come to the UK via schemes such as Community Sponsorship and Homes for Ukraine. Some people had received their refugee status, some were undocumented, awaiting a decision or did not have recourse to public funds. Unsurprisingly, where people found themselves situated within the system had a profound impact on their experience. Informed by Mayday Trust’s person-centered approach, the question was formulated so that it was not leading, nor did it presuppose a particular answer – centrally, conversations were guided by the person sharing. The recommendations are a careful synthesis of all the insights shared across the conversations. The common themes and messages that arose then made up the body of the final report. These are: having a sense of choice and control, being treated with humanity, understanding and compassion, being a part of the local community, being able to achieve ambitions and have purpose, being able to see family and friends, but before any of this, basic needs have to come first, having something to feel hopeful about. “To leave your country and go to a completely new place, [you have to be] a strong person. It’s a strong person who leaves their home. They are very ambitious people, but don’t have opportunity. Don’t have choices. At least if I had education I would be learning for the future.” Wisdoms Participant “A good life means you have many choices”. Wisdoms Participant “Wisdom from a Journey to a Good Life emphasised the importance of community, kindness, and giving people the power to shape their own lives – areas where each of us can play a part in supporting and helping others, even when many other aspects are beyond their and our control.” Dr Trent Grassian, Mayday Trust Wisdom from A Journey to a Good Life Recommendations: 1. A good life is about more than just meeting your basic needs. 2. But, until people’s basic needs are met, they may struggle to connect with their broader goals and ambitions. 3. Mental health and support to recover from past trauma are vital for those who have come through tough times. 4. Help to foster opportunities to develop and support local communities that emphasise choice and control. 5. Work to empower people who may experience little choice and control in their lives. 6. Continue speaking with people who have moved to the UK from other countries, particularly those facing challenges in securing residency. To download the full report, visit: https://maydaytrust.org.uk/wisdom-from-a-journey-to-a-good-life/ Photograph shared by Caritas Westminster

SJOG: A New Beginning in the UK

Since September 2022, St John of God Hospitaller Services (SJOG) – in partnership with CSAN – have been providing a matching service for individuals displaced by the war in Ukraine. This is the story of one Ukrainian guest, Anna, who arrived under the SJOG Homes for Ukraine Scheme: In the midst of turmoil and constant shelling in Kharkiv, my family found a glimmer of hope through the “Homes for Ukraine” programme, offered by St John of God Hospitaller Services (SJOG). This programme not only provided us with an escape route but also paved the way for a brighter and more peaceful future for my son, who has Asperger’s syndrome. Our journey began when we were introduced to the programme, which was to become our lifeline out of a perilous situation. A remarkable couple, Anna and Edmund, quickly became our sponsors, but they would soon come to mean much more. They enveloped us with care and support, evolving into more than just sponsors; they became family. The transition from a war-torn region to safety was made remarkably smooth, thanks to the programme’s efficient handling of every detail. From swift paperwork processing to speedy solutions for any issues that arose, SJOG made sure our needs were met every step of the way. Perhaps the most poignant transformation was the impact on our son’s life. Once filled with fear and uncertainty, he now has the opportunity to attend a school that was previously just a dream. This newfound security and access to education have rekindled the joy of learning, making school days something to look forward to once again. But there was an even deeper level to the change we witnessed in our son. The war had taken a toll on his health, exacerbating his Asperger’s syndrome. Here, in a peaceful environment, he finally found a place where he could thrive and receive the care he needed. His first words upon arriving were, “How wonderful it is to finally sleep without the sound of sirens.” It was difficult to part from our extended family back home, as he had grown up with his grandparents, but our son’s future meant everything to us. We are immensely grateful that England has embraced us so warmly. In a world filled with challenges and uncertainties, the “Homes for Ukraine” programme shines as a beacon of hope, providing not just refuge but also a chance for a brighter tomorrow. Our story serves as a testament to the power of compassion and the impact it can have on those facing the harshest of circumstances. SJOG Homes for Ukraine is an official provider of the government scheme, operating in the whole of the UK. The scheme is funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities (DLUHC), and the Albert Gubay Fund. The purpose of the programme is twofold: to evacuate people from the warzone and prevent homelessness amongst those Ukrainians already in the UK. If you wish to rent your property, which is also possible, feel free to apply via sjog-homesforukraine.uk  More information on the project can be found at the following links: Website: sjog-homesforukraine.uk E-mail: homesforukraine@sjog.org.uk Facebook page: facebook.com/sjoghomesforukraine

PACT: Dealt an ‘ACE’

Over the last 18 months, Pact has been piloting a new approach to supporting young men in prison at Brinsford Young Offenders’ Institution in Staffordshire. Our ‘Dealt an ACE’ project provides specialist support for young men who have experienced significant trauma in their childhoods and who are exhibiting violent, harmful, or self-destructive behaviours. Research shows that men in prison are much more likely than men outside to have suffered ‘adverse childhood experiences’ (ACEs). The lives of many of these young men have been incredibly tough and shaped by various forms of abuse, familial substance misuse, imprisonment of loved ones, experience of the care system, and educational difficulties. Dealt an ACE offers men help and hope whilst serving their sentence, through a structured programme of individual support designed to build up their resilience and skills to navigate life’s challenges. This is what Kyle* said about how the programme had helped him: “This is my first time in prison. I asked Pact’s Angie* for help when I saw her on the prison wing. My mental health wasn’t great, and I felt angry all the time. I didn’t know what to do with it. The best part of the support is how it makes me feel. It cheers up my day – I actually look forward to the sessions. There’s a trust. We have good conversations about anger, stress, and relationships. It’s helped me feel like I’ve got a plan, and I’m moving forward.” “Angie brings Pact booklets, and we talk through them together – we’ve met regularly for three months. Now, I want to help as many people as possible to get ready to leave prison. I’ve been working on myself – I’ve done a drug misuse course, a forklift driving course, and I play in a football team. I’ve got a strong relationship with my parents. I ring them every week, and they visit when they can.” “The hardest thing about coming to prison was hearing my mum say, ‘I’ll support you this time, but not again.” That makes me want to change. I’ve seen my whole family struggle with me being in prison. I used to help my brother financially, but I can’t in here.” “I feel like since getting help from Pact, I appreciate things more. We’ve done work around managing my anger – I feel more mature, like I care about values and manners. I feel more focused on getting out, going home to my bed, and having beans on toast with my mum. I just wanted to say thank you. Keep doing this; it helps a lot.” Through Pact’s Dealt an ACE project, we uphold the dignity and worth of the young men whom walk alongside in solidarity. Each journey is co-designed with the person we are supporting, in a spirit of subsidiarity. It is wonderful to see the fruits of this work which Kyle describes in his own words. *names have been changed Photograph by Andy Aitchison