Semira had an incredibly difficult start in life. When she was just 17 she arrived in England seeking asylum from Ethiopia. She was incredibly vulnerable; homeless in a city she didn’t know, without friends or family to support her and unable to speak any English. She had nothing. Her remarkable strength to survive has been there from the outset,
“Sometimes the hard things make you cry but I’ll keep on going. Even though it was difficult I would think about the people who are really sick, who don’t have hope. I can change my life. I’m not going to stop my dream. That makes me say ‘you are ok, you are ok Semira’.”
She received refugee status, learnt English and was placed in housing but was later evicted when the landlord wanted to redevelop the property. Tenants can be vulnerable to losing their homes with little notice if the landlord changes the tenancy agreement.The thought of sleeping rough was terrifying for Semira so she would board night buses which provided some security and warmth but there were other dangers,
“Sometimes there were guys who were drinking and they try to talk to you, they try to ask for your number. This is really hard. I am not a rude person normally so I would just be nice. If you are rude or something then you might get in to trouble.”
Our street outreach team found her and she was referred into our emergency night centre while she received support with housing. But she says one of the hardest things about being homeless is having so much time and nothing to do. She’s been attending our in-house accredited IT workshops learning how to use a computer and the internet. She’s gained certificates in Microsoft word, excel and powerpoint which will be useful for work.
“Before I couldn’t do any IT, like how to update a CV because these days everything is with a computer. After I finish my course I will know more things and I can get a job.”
Mark from our Employment, Education & Training team has been working with Semira to develop a CV and apply for work. She’s just completed a two week work trial with John Lewis. Working in customer service in the menswear department she’s gained up to date experience which will increase her chance of finding full time employment.
“I learnt a lot in the two weeks I’ve been in John Lewis and the people are really welcoming. It’s going to help me for the future because I have plans to be a business woman.”
This takes us back to the start of the piece where Semira mentioned her dream and she shares her hopes for the future,
“I have two dreams. Since I was a kid I really enjoyed doing electrician work. I want to say thank you for the Connection. They were with me when things were hard.”