Hanna’s story

Country of origin: Zambia
Profession: Qualified nurse
Date arrived: 2006
BBC News country profile: In spite of its massive copper deposits, Zambia has suffered from falling commodity prices and two thirds of its people live in poverty. It’s predicted that Zambia will triple its population of 13 million by 2050.

‘I first came to the UK on a temporary work permit, to work as a supervised practice Nurse. I was really excited to have such a brilliant opportunity.

But when I tried to register professionally with the Nursing and Midwifery Council in London, I ran into all sorts of problems. It seemed that my papers were not in proper order and I had to stop work. I was devastated.

At the same time, my teenage son, who had come to England with me, was starting to play up and be difficult at home. But when I told my family back in Zambia, they just thought he was getting too westernised, which wasn’t much help. I felt quite ashamed and blamed myself for the situation.

On top of that, when I applied to remain in the UK, Immigration refused my application and told me that we had to leave the country. I was given two days’ notice to get out of my accommodation, and because of my immigration status, I could not work or claim any benefits.

I also had no money to pay a solicitor for legal advice, but I did approach one. She told me to put in a formal claim for asylum, but I was so upset by now that I just couldn’t handle the work involved.

That was a really terrible time. Being unable to work made me forget the skills I had, and I felt unhappy and bored with nothing to do. I even considered suicide.

Luckily for me, I was put in touch with the Clear Project in Southampton, a charity that supports immigrants. They suggested I contact SWVG, who’ve supported me practically, financially and emotionally ever since, and matched me with a really wonderful visitor who has helped me regain my confidence.

Things are going much better now. My son is settling in school and I hope that soon we will have a proper place to live as a family again. I believe that we will have a future here. I have begun to feel like a human being again.’

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