Amira* referred herself to Alana House in June 2019. She had been living in Reading for around seven years and had been staying with her daughter, sharing a room with her grandchildren. Amira had no income or independence and, due to her lack of immigration status, had no recourse to public funds. In March 2020 she was granted leave to remain for five years.
After referral, Amira was put on a waiting list for one-to-one support but started attending groups straight away.
In February 2020, Amira was allocated an Alana House support worker. Following her new immigration status, she was able to make the first steps towards independence. Her initial goals were to set up her own bank account, to apply for her own Universal Credit and to apply to Reading Borough Council (RBC) for housing. She also wanted to start taking part in meaningful activities in her local community such as volunteering, and hoped to do more exercise.
Amira’s one-to-one support began at the time of the nationwide lockdown following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. This meant one-to-one support was initially difficult but, with the support of her daughter during this time, Amira was able to apply for a bank account and Universal Credit, which she began receiving in June.
When it was safe to resume, she continued one-to-one work with her Alana House support worker and was able to apply for housing from RBC. She was allocated a property after a few months and, although she was initially unhappy with the idea of living in the flat, her daughter and her support worker encouraged her and she moved in.
Since moving in, Amira says she adores her new home and likes her building, where she chats to her neighbours and the staff on site. She still gets to see her grandchildren regularly which is important for her. Her Alana House support worker also helped her acquire furniture through some donations and grants, as well as assisting her with applying for her housing benefit and managing her budget.
Amira has increasing her physical exercise through regular walks and attending the Alana House pilates group as part of their Love Me Love Life programme. Her support worker has put her in touch with the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading to look into potential volunteering opportunities once lockdown is lifted, and Amira is looking forward to having more structure in her daily routine. She has been building her confidence by attending virtual ESOL classes through Alana House and hopes this will help her once she does start volunteering.
* Name changed for confidentiality
I am so happy with the support given to me by Alana House, they are an amazing and incredibly thoughtful service. Since I first joined, and especially since I received my immigration status, my life has been better than I could have ever expected. Since I got my immigration status, Alana House have done so much for me, supporting me with all the steps following on from this. Whenever I have a problem, I know I can come to Alana House and they can help me and let me know what to do. They are like family and I am proud to be a service user. When I am with Alana House, I feel free.
Amira has engaged really well since we started support, and has made huge steps since getting her immigration status approved. It has been very encouraging to see how well she has adjusted to living independently, and her eagerness to continue to move forward is inspiring. For the future, Amira is looking forward to volunteering, and is also now thinking about getting into education. As well as this, Amira is a proud lesbian, and hopes to get more in touch with the LGBTQ+ community, and her long term goal is to settle down with a partner and be free from judgement.
Amira’s support worker