“With the help of the Law Centre, I have my life back”

‘I came from Bulgaria to live in the UK for a better life. After living with friends for a year, I was finally able to move into my own apartment in London – things were going well for me. A year later, I opened up my own business. I was granted pre-settled status and could now live in the UK temporarily.’ 

Life took a turn when Amelia* entered a relationship that quickly became abusive and controlling. Her partner accused her of infidelity daily and relied on her financially. 

‘I gave birth to our son soon after and the abuse just got worse – he started physically abusing me. I had to get away from him for my child’s safety and my own. I went to the council to tell them I was homeless as a result of fleeing domestic violence. ’

Seeking help from the council, Amelia was placed in temporary accommodation. As a single mother, she struggled to balance work and childcare, leading to the loss of her Housing Benefit and denial of Universal Credit and Child Benefit. 

‘I started to rely on Food Vouchers. I was prioritising feeding and caring for my son. The poor nutrition led me to become anaemic and then I was prescribed antidepressants because of all that I was going through. I was told that I was not entitled to benefits so I was having to pay prescription costs for two medications every month.’

Desperate for help, Amelia turned to South West London Law Centres. One of our apprentice solicitors informed her that she could apply for Settled Status before her pre-settled status expired with the right documentation. Our solicitor guided her through the process and obtained the necessary documents, ultimately securing her Settled Status within two months.

Additionally, the apprentice solicitor referred Amelia to our Cost of Living Crisis Team. Where she received additional help to reinstate her Housing Benefit, secure Child Benefit, and successfully reapply for Universal Credit. These benefits now supplement her income from work.

‘I could not believe that it had finally happened and my stress was relieved. I still work and my benefits top-up my income. I do not believe any of this would have been possible without the Law Centre. I am an independent and an intelligent person with good English but whenever I made calls or went to appointments I was not taken seriously and felt like I kept hitting brick walls. With the help of the Law Centre, I have my life back and can enjoy bringing my son up in this country safely and with hope for the future.’

*Name has been changed