Pam's Story: "Living without status is like barely surviving"
"Living without status is like barely surviving"
I came to the UK to find safety. I arrived when I was 20 years old, so my adult life has thus far only known the UK. This has been my home.
The place where I was born was no longer safe for me to live. When I was a child, I was molested by someone I knew and trusted. After countless months of court appearances, we managed to get a guilty verdict but that was short lived - after a few years in prison, the perpetrator was let out and allowed to move back in the same neighbourhood where I lived. I received threats from him and struggled to cope. My parents decided I needed to escape, and they made the hardest decision any parent can make and said goodbye, sending me to the UK.
I came over with a 2-year working holiday visa and managed to work odd jobs while taking courses in health care. I found a church family and things seemed to be going in the right direction. When my two years were almost up, I went to my church leaders to ask for advice on what I should do. This is when the nightmare began.
"As my time in the UK was limited and I needed help fast, people began to take advantage of me."
It began with a leader of the church at the time threatening me, saying that if I slept with him and gave him a child, he would help me. I refused and could no longer visit the church. I was then sexually assaulted by my landlord and was pregnant a few weeks later. I got kicked out of my house and when I reported it to the police nothing happened. I managed to rent a studio flat with two other work friends who were women, so I felt a bit safer until one of the girl's boyfriends made a pass at me and things quickly changed. Arriving back home from work one day, I found all my belongings either destroyed or missing, including my passport and visa.
I made a report to the police station, but nothing changed. Everything became a waiting game and with all the investigations being done, my time in this country expired. That's when my journey of being undocumented began and when my life hit rock bottom.
"Not having status is one of, if not the worst thing, someone can go through."
Not knowing who to trust and constantly feeling scared of going back to the country you escaped. I made an application to the Home Office but was refused. Eventually, being so sick and exhausted from everything that was happening, I ended up in the hospital where I had a miscarriage.
"Living without status is like barely surviving."
I live on whatever scraps are given to me and have to be content with it. I want to have a normal job where I can pay my taxes and contribute to my own community, but I can't just because my status does not permit me to. I don't have a voice and don't have a life. My dad originally sent me to the UK to live in safety and build a better life. When we said goodbye, I was hoping one day of seeing him again, but he got very sick and when he died, I couldn’t visit him because of my lack of status and travel documents.
Winning the Settle Our Status campaign will mean so much for me. It would mean I would finally get the help I have been waiting so long for and a chance to be somebody, a chance to visit my dad's grave and have that closure, to help young ladies like myself and wake up each day without being scared. To feel truly at home.