Safe houses provide fresh start for families

In 2019 Delia* came to the UK in search of a better life.

However, instead of the future she was hoping for, she was taken advantage of, and exploited for two years.

Luckily, Delia was rescued, and referred into the Government’s support system for survivors of Modern Slavery – known as the NRM.

She arrived at the City Hearts family safe house in Sheffield in 2021, along with her baby girl, who has recently turned one.

Despite the hardships she has endured, Delia says she is determined to make a good life for herself and her daughter.

“When I gave birth to her I was by myself,” said Delia. “It was a painful, long, and scary process, and I didn’t have anyone. But going through all that pain has just made me love her more. She is the best thing in my life. Everything I do now, I do for her.”

Delia and her daughter have been living in the safe house for almost a year, and she is keen to move on and live in the UK independently. She is waiting for her asylum application to go through, and is looking forward to a fresh start.

“When I moved to the safe house, I was new in Sheffield, and they helped me,” she said.

“I go with my baby to the Drop-In sessions at City Hearts every week where we chat with other people, we do some activities, they make us food. It’s very refreshing to have that opportunity to be with other people.

“When I move out of the safe house, I want to stay in Sheffield. It would break my heart if I had to leave this place. But I also just want the space to be on my own with my daughter. I’m looking forward to being able to move on with my life, and City Hearts have helped me to do that.”

Delia’s caseworkers at City Hearts helped her enrol in a college course in September where she will study English and maths.

“I want to be a nurse one day,” she said. “I come from a country in southern Africa, and I didn’t manage to go to school as I didn’t have anyone to support me. I think that if I had had that opportunity, I could have gone far.

“My country is very beautiful, but it has its problems. There are good things and bad things about Africa, as well as the UK, but in the UK I am able to eat every day. And I can eat what I want. If I want to eat pizza then I can eat pizza. In my country it would have taken a long time to save the money to eat pizza.”

Delia loves being a mother, and the only thing worrying her about pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse, is leaving her daughter at nursery.

“Sometimes people offer to look after her for me, but I say no. Everywhere I go, she goes with me.

“I am a strong woman, but I don’t want to break down. I don’t want what I’ve been through, and the pain of waiting for an asylum decision, to break me down.

“I need to move on with my life. I want my daughter to have a better life.

“I want her to be a doctor. Even though she’s only one, I tell her every day that she needs to be a doctor!”

 “I am doing everything I can for my child.”