Tomas is pleased that his English teacher has helped him understand how to speak well, “But then my teacher said he would take me further and teach me about structure and how to understand what style is. I have been lent books to read by the Centre. This is such a joy”.
“From the day I arrived at the Centre, very lost and destitute , they welcomed me in and offered me a range of activities and classes… I wanted to try everything.”
So these days Tomas is seen at the Centre every day it is open, taking part in English classes and is a member of the Art and Writing group. His rich voice rings out at Romain’s Choir. He has made many friends and they have become an important support in an otherwise very limited existence.
Tomas is from a minority ethnic group in his country of origin, and was involved in struggles for rights for his minority group. He fled the country 16 years ago, coming here initially on a six month visitor visa. Due to developments in his country of origin, he did not dare return when his original visa ran out, and ended up living without leave to remain in the UK. At the Centre, however, he has accessed support services and says: “I am being helped to put in an application for leave to remain, otherwise I risk being removed from the UK with little or no notice. I have also been given support when I needed to talk about living with depression and anxiety. When I am in the Centre these feelings lift and I feel safe”.
Tomas has a partner and she is helping him with his legal affairs “but she is disabled and lives outside London. I cannot afford to go there, so the Centre helps me by giving some transport money to see her”. Tomas lives with a host family at the moment, and is able to get food parcels at the Centre, as well as having a safe space to relax with friends. He says “The Centre is a place I can always have a cup of tea and in breaks between the classes I sit with other clients, drinking our tea together and sharing news.”
“I look at people living in Britain, getting on with busy lives, and think they have no idea how fortunate they are. I would like nothing more than to be able to work, look after myself and contribute to this society which has been good to me . Perhaps that will be possible one day, meanwhile it is the Centre and its wonderful kindness, and the lifestyle it offers, that keeps my spirits up.”