Since arriving in the UK two years ago I have been moved to four different NASS accommodations. Every time this means having to start again and a new school for my daughter Alina.

It breaks my heart. My one wish is that we could have a home of our own.

I can see that with every move Alina's education is suffering especially as the school cannot accept her straight away so she misses a few weeks. She is only eight and I know she is falling behind with school but I feel so lost with how to help her. I am studying English at college but I struggle to help her with her homework, she is so smart and learning quicker than me!

It is not only her education that is suffering. Alina remembers our past and while she refuses to talk to me about it she often has bursts of anger. These negative behaviours have intensified recently because she is frustrated with the way we live – moving around so much and living in horrible accommodation. I feel bad she can never feel settled.

Thankfully Alina's current school has a great pastoral team who meets with her every few days. They have helped a lot because she has become really shy and doesn’t speak to me about her feelings. My own mental health is bad and I often feel so low and depressed I worry I cannot support her as much as I should. I worry a lot about how to be the best mum for her and that if we are forced to move again the next school won’t have the right support for her.

There are also practical problems as we currently live on £100 a week. Every new school means a new uniform. I was able to get a discount from the school but it is not just uniform; she needs shoes, a coat, a bag and pencil case, it all costs so much money! Even then she is growing so fast and I hate that I can’t buy her nice clothes like her friends.

Looking forward

In an ideal world I would be able to promise my daughter we can settle in one place and have her own bedroom. We wouldn’t have to move and I would be able to buy her the things all her friends have like a laptop or a TV.

I would also love to have the money to send her on trips but I am unable to. I know in Year 6 there is a weekend away where they do activities and I already worry about this conversation with my daughter as I will have to tell her I cannot afford for her to go. I hate that she will be the only child who cannot go. I feel so embarrassed I don’t even want to talk to the school about this. 

Phoenix Project

Thankfully I am now part of Hestia's Phoenix Project. I have met so many lovely people through the team who are helping me with my application for permanent accommodation and access counselling. They have also supported me through applying and starting college and helping me build the skills to get back to work. 

Our happy future is getting closer but I just wish it would come quicker!

Sara is originally from Afghanistan. She was sold by her family as a teenager to an older man who she had to marry. Her husband then moved her to Ukraine where she was enslaved into domestic servitude for 8 years. Sara managed to escape to the UK after her husband threatened to divorce her and send her daughter back to Afghanistan.

Since arriving in London she has been supported by Hestia's outreach modern slavery response team and lived in accommodation run by NASS. She was granted asylum in the summer of 2018. She is now supported by Hestia's Phoenix Project.