Esther's Story

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I don’t know what I would have done without the support.

Esther, East Africa

I came to the attention of the Refugee Council in 2003 when I was an unaccompanied minor at the age of fifteen. I was trafficked to the country for domestic servitude and locked in a house for five month. I escaped and I was taken to the police by stranger. At the time I was new to the country, had no family or friends and spoke very little English.

Refugee Council allocated a key worker for me that helped me to find a solicitor and introduced me to a youth club run every Tuesday, to help me make friends and feel as part of a community. Some of the friends I met in the youth club have continued to be my friends and even my best friend whom I am a godmother to her son. They also referred me to summer school where I could learn English and mathematics. This helped me to build my confidence and improve my spoken and written language. 

The key worker I was given helped me with helped me with my asylum application and went with me to the Home Office for my first screening, and appointments that followed in preparation for my statement for my case. I was given leave to remain until the age of eighteen. In 2005 I made an application to the home office to extend my leave and they wrote to me informing me that my case had been transferred to Legacy.

In 2009 I was facing destitution after social services demanded I provide them an up to date document showing what my status was, as I had not heard anything from the home office.  I contacted the Refugee Council for advice and they referred me to a legal firm who helped to me write to the Home Office for update. The outcome was successful as the Home Office replied to say they were still processing my case and that they would solve it soon.  

My case went to court in 2012 and I had a positive decision after waiting for seven years for a decision from the Home Office. Now that I have status I can start building my life in the UK and begin healing from the traumatic experience I went through in my country and here in the UK.

Refugee Council have been very helpful to me. I don’t know what I would have done without the support I received from the Refugee Council for number of years.