(the Resident’s name has been changed to protect her identity)
Benedita came to Great Yarmouth with plans to stay with the sister of her neighbour in Portugal, where she was living at the time, although the family are originally from Guinea-Bissau. She wanted to do all she could to support herself and her two boys aged 6 and 5, following the death of her husband, who had been the family’s main provider.
Benedita had been told she would have full time work when she got to Great Yarmouth, however, shortly after her arrival the hours become more sporadic, and the person with whom she was staying started to put pressure on Benedita to find alternative accommodation for her and her boys.
Benedita made contact with GYROS, an organisation that supports new communities in Great Yarmouth, and was introduced to Ines, a Service Connector who worked with Benedita to develop an action plan.
Keen to learn more English, Benedita was able to start attending English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) classes at GYROS. Her two children got involved with the children’s club at GYROS which helped them with developing English language skills and to integrate with other children.
One day Benedita and the children came to GYROS carrying all their belongings, having just been made homeless. Benedita went with Ines, the Service Connector to Great Yarmouth Borough Council who considered her to be intentionally homeless because she wouldn’t tell them where she had been staying, as she was worried about retaliation in the form of voodoo.
Culturally in Guinea Bissau voodoo is a very real fear. Benedita feared for her own life and that of her children. Children’s services also refused to help her unless she disclosed her previous address. Ines tried to explain the gravity of the issue to the relevant authorities as their systems seemed unable to take into account Benedita’s cultural needs.
However, working with GYROS, Benedita was able to access temporary accommodation for herself and her boys. Ines invited Benedita to the Neighbourhood Lunch in Great Yarmouth Library where she made a few friends and met some Community Connectors.
Benedita applied for a full-time position in a factory and got the job, with her salary she was able to rent a small property and was eligible to receive support from the council. Since then Ines has introduced Benedita to Comeunity, where Alan, a Skills Connector, gave her advice about Universal Credit, and she has taken part in several local community events, as have her children. She is now an active member of her local community.