50 Years 50 Voices "I’m starting to build a new life with my son. That is my future." Agnesa's* Story The day I gave birth to my son was the day I got a call from Hestia. They told me I had been referred into their Modern Slavery Response service. That was a big day for me as I was in an awful place mentally. That was four years ago now, and in that time, everything in my life has changed for the better. I have been supported by Hestia’s Phoenix Project for just over a year now, after I received a positive decision on my asylum application. The Phoenix Project provides long-term support to people once they have left Hestia’s Modern Slavery Response service. My keyworker, Eliza, has helped me with everything. She suggested I started going to college. At first, I was scared but she told me that if I should give it a go. She reassured me that she was there if I needed her. I started last January, and I’ve already finished the first level. I’m now working on the second. I am learning English, maths and ICT. College keeps my brain busy. I’m no longer thinking about the bad things in my past. In the future, when I feel confident with my English, I would love to do a business management degree. I already have a degree from Albania, so I would really like to convert it and carry on studying here in the UK. I want to manage a business in the UK one day. Before, I couldn’t be around people at college. I was so anxious and stressed. I used to check behind me all the time for suspicious people and would wake up with anxiety from the bad dreams. I would just cry; I felt like there was no hope for the future. Things are better now. I’m part of the community. I used to only be able to go out to the park and only when I felt I really needed to get out. Now I go to play groups with my son and I’ve met other parents. I’ve made friends with other service users I met at a Hestia Christmas party. They are also from Albania. We go into town for coffee. It’s lovely. Everything is going good for my son too. I didn’t know how to get him into nursery. I was a new mum in a new country; everything works different in the UK compared to Albania. But Eliza helped me find one; she gave me all the information I needed. When my college said they couldn’t give me childcare funding, Eliza wrote them a letter and explained why I needed it. They said yes. My son is at nursery now. When he comes home, we play together, or I read a book to him. We get more time together now. He still gets anxious, and he hasn’t been eating recently. But Eliza is helping with that too – she helped to find a nutritionist, who I spoke to just yesterday. They help in any way they can. I don’t have any family here, but Hestia is my family. Without the Phoenix Project, things would be very different and very difficult. They helped me to see a therapist, find a GP, move to a new house. Everything is new for me and I’m leaving the past behind. I am so happy in this country and I don’t want to leave – I feel safe here. I’m starting to build a new life with my son. That is my future. Which book has impacted me the most? The book is from Danielle Steel - Once In A Lifetime. Which film has impacted me the most? The film is A Prince For Christmas. Which song has impacted me the most? All Christmas songs - they bring me happiness.