We recently caught up with Angele, who has been coming to the Centre since 2018, to hear about her success in landing a new job and her joy in having her own flat for the first time since arriving in the UK as an asylum seeker.
One afternoon when we call, Angele is busy. We message her a couple of times asking if we can chat, and then one day she calls us out of the blue.
“You are on my list,” she laughs. “So, I am calling you now.”
“I’m so happy about your job,” we tell her, “this is fantastic!”
Angele laughs again and explains how, after several interviews and a short stint doing care work, she was offered a role as a Customer Services Assistant at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. She takes meal orders from patients and liaises with nurses to ensure that people get the correct food.
“I talk to patients, and I ask them what they like to eat and encourage them. I like helping people,” she says. “I needed a job to get housing and I did my best to get that job. I remember telling Andy (our chief executive) that it was not what I was expecting, but it was good.”
Angele has come through some really difficult times to get to where she is now. A refugee from the Democratic Republic of The Congo – where she used to work in a large finance department – she had her initial claim for asylum rejected and found herself with no money and nowhere to go.
Unsure of where to go or what to do, Angele’s friend introduced her to the Centre, reassuring her it was a safe place in which she could place her trust. Once her most basic needs were taken care of, Angele embraced life at the centre wholeheartedly. She threw herself into English classes, joined the choir, and went to art sessions. The Centre then helped her to enrol in college, where she studied English and maths.
“I was destitute – that’s why I came to the Centre. It was not easy,” she continues. “I was relying on what the Centre gave for food, money for travel expenses, everything. Now, look where I am. I have my job and I have my own flat. I had to wait so long, but now I have it.”
For Angele, lockdown was extremely difficult. Isolation set in. The Centre supported Angele, as we did so many of our visitors, with regular phone calls, phone and internet top-ups for essential communication, and emergency travel expenses.
But now, the future is looking much brighter for Angele, who is beamingly happy to share her story because she wants to become a positive example for other people who come to the Centre; to send a message not to ever give up hope.
“I always encourage people. If you are destitute, carry on with what you are doing. Have hope. You will get there. The Centre helped me so much, and it will help you.”