Laura, originally from Spain but most recently residing in France, arrived in the UK in December 2017. Her plans were to start work immediately as a live-in carer, knowing the numerous opportunities that London promised.
On arrival, Laura checked into a hostel and was quickly interviewed by a local agency. The training, DBS check and references took longer than Laura anticipated however, and the money she had brought quickly disappeared. “I had come with a lot of hope but with very little money, thinking that I would start working very fast,” she recalls.
Laura found a room to share and was able to pay one month’s rent. The experience was not a good one though, as she realised that this was an illegal let. “It was a very negative place,” she says. Although desperate to get out, she had no more money to rent elsewhere so the outlook was bleak. Incredibly though, the day before she was due to move out she attended a class at a local day centre and this day centre turned out to be Providence Row, a local charity helping the homeless. She laughs as she remembers her words, “I said, ‘Well maybe tomorrow morning I will come here for an appointment as from the next day I will be homeless!’”.
A gift from God
Laura’s key worker at Providence Row was able to secure a space for her at GrowTH that very next day and she sees this as a ‘gift from God’. She reflects on the 24 nights she spent in the shelter. “I remember it as a very good experience. People were so warm and welcoming. It is very good to feel this humanity when you arrive to a place. Maybe you don’t have the energy to interact much, but it’s very warm. Being in a safe, secure place … being able to eat and just go to bed.”
Laura’s positivity radiates out of her and she is thankful for her experience. “I was very proud to be in the night shelter. For me it was something very positive in many ways. Not being able to have money to do what you want to do, to put yourself in a situation where you can only accept what God is giving you … it was very positive. It was a lesson of humility.”
In March 2018, Laura started working as a live-in carer although for the first couple of weeks, she pined for her time in the shelter! “I missed it a lot at the beginning. The first two weeks I was thinking, ‘I would like very much to be in the night shelters instead of living here.’ I felt a part of a community.”
A bright future
Since then, Laura has been working consistently. She is keen to keep improving her English, as well as improving in her role as a carer. She says she’s happy to have a job and has moved into a home in North West London which will act as a permanent base for her. Her future looks bright indeed!