Isabelle was 19, with a nine-month old daughter. Originally from Jamaica, she’d come to England as a 14-year old. Her dream was to be a legal secretary. But she’d attended a course where she had to hand in her passport, which she could not get returned. Her passport subsequently expired meaning that she had overstayed in the UK and her application for indefinite leave to remain had been turned down. Whilst she was appealing the decision, she lived with her mother and stepfather in a tiny room where her baby had no space to play. She was extremely depressed, scared to leave the house, and worried about parenting her daughter. Her ex-partner who had been violent towards her was in jail and she was scared of reprisals when he came out if she talked about the abuse.
Her St Michael’s keyworker visited Isabelle at home each week and acted as liaison with her solicitor, gradually helping her to improve her personal and domestic situation. She worked with Isabelle and her mother to improve their relationship so that Isabelle was allowed to move into a larger, unused bedroom where there was space for her baby to learn to crawl and play. Her keyworker also helped Isabelle to address the significant domestic violence issues she had suffered, gain in self confidence, make friends and move towards self-sufficiency.
Isabelle was introduced to a support group for young parents facilitated by St Michael’s. She made friends with the other participants and became close to one mother in particular whom she often met up with.
As part of her immigration application, Isabelle had to make a personal statement about her ex-partner’s domestic violence. She needed a lot of support from key worker to do this - it took four separate visits for her to complete her statement. At the first visit, she became extremely distressed - her ex-partner had been calling her from prison on an illegal mobile. However, despite worrying that she would receive reprisals from his family, Isabelle somehow found the strength to write to the prison authorities to explain that her ex-partner was threatening and intimidating her.
Isabelle found it so hard to write her personal statement because she had experienced such severe levels of violence. She’d been threatened with a gun and been kidnapped and taken to live in a crack house. She had reported this to the police and her ex-partner was arrested. She then discovered he’d absconded from prison just before she met him. He was returned to prison to finish his sentence with extra time added for the domestic violence. A lot of the more serious violence occurred while she was pregnant with his child.
Partly due to her testimony, Isabelle’s partner was deported and she was granted indefinite leave to remain alone with her daughter. She was finally able to move to a hostel and enrol in a Legal Secretary’s course and to begin her journey to making an independent and fulfilling life for herself and her daughter.
Isabelle's name and some other personal details have been changed.