I came for a better life, not for me, but for my three-year old daughter in Romania. I was checking websites in Romania before I came here – a site called ‘Romanian in the UK’. They have all sorts of information about life in the UK. So I arrived in London. I had some money in my pocket but hostels in London were expensive. I decided to save my money so I could eat and I slept on the streets. I didn’t know I would need so much money in London. I was on the streets for 2 months.
Outreach brought me here to Olallo. This is a very good place for people who want to do something with their life. I need to get all my papers. It’s about my daughter’s education. I think in the UK it’s the best education you can get. If you study here in London you can be someone.
When I first came here, I didn’t want to go to Olallo because I thought they would send me home. While I’m not working I work on the computers in Olallo. I’m happy here and know I can do more. My keyworker has helped me with my national insurance and my papers. I didn’t come here to claim benefits. I’m focussed on what I need to do.
After, they just dropped me at the local station. I stayed with a friend, but more of an acquaintance than a friend. I got another job as a live-in housekeeper but soon left because of an uncomfortable situation in the house in which the police got involved. I went back to the friend’s house but it was not possible for me to stay. I still looked for another job but I was stuck on the street for ten days. It was tough, especially being a woman.
I accessed day centre services, I went to a church and then I was found on the streets and taken to NSNO. They then took me to Olallo House. It is all right here. I have food and a room to sleep. The people here are caring.
I go back to Poland in two days. I have a small retirement pension to go back to. I’m 62 years old and I’m tired.
I came eight years ago and have worked in factories across the UK in food production and flowers. The last factory I worked in closed and I lost my job. I then had arguments where I was living. I went to Nottingham to find a job but my friends there said I could not stay with them. I then spent two months on the streets, sleeping under scaffolding. It was very cold.
Three years ago I had slept on the street too and someone stole my documents. It was an old style passport where the photo can be changed more easily. Now my credit history is destroyed. I can’t get a bank account or phone contract because my identity has been stolen.
While on the streets I was picked up by Connections at St Martins. I stayed there for a few weeks. I was then back out on the streets. My key worker found me on the streets and brought me back here to Olallo. It’s very good here. I’m getting incredible help. I’m training for a new kind of job. They push me here to do something. On Monday I have a trial shift for a kitchen porter position.