*Suzana’s real name has been changed to protect her identity.

Mental Health and Housing – Suzana’s story

“I’m from Albania and my parents trafficked me when I was 18. I just remember my father telling me I have to do this. I didn’t really know what was happening when I was taken to Greece. I was put in one room and forced to have sex with different men against my will. It was forced prostitution, but I didn’t get paid. After a few months I was pregnant but lost the baby. Following that I had no clients for a few days but then was straight back as before. This was my life for 3-4 years.

It was difficult for people to help me because of the language barrier. Eventually, I met another Albanian who used my ‘services’ and started a relationship with him. I saw him every Friday. I didn’t know if he was part of the organisation that used the girls for profit. Finally, I was moved back to Albania but didn’t see my family. I was there for only 2 days before moving to France with fake documents. From there I entered the UK in a lorry.

After 3 months in the UK, I became pregnant and knew that I needed help. I found an Albanian who promised to help me after I confided in her. But instead the Home office was contacted. I was given an interpreter to whom I told my story. Following this, I was sent to a women’s camp. I then got an advocate, but I was still threatened with deportation. I suffered with hair loss and developed high blood pressure for which I needed statins. I became quite depressed and was seen by a psychologist who prescribed medication.

I was moved from the camp and sent to live with an Albanian family where I gave birth to my son. The Red Cross tried to help with my documentation and my case went to court. Thankfully, I was given leave to remain for 5 years. I then got pregnant with my daughter and was moved to a hotel where I stayed for 7 months in one room. Then I was moved to Westley House temporary accommodation with the children. The Red Cross referred me to Penrose, and I met with Norah.

I swear, Norah helped me with EVERYTHING! Housing benefits, trying to sort out some documents, getting moved to a private house. She was amazing! I feel so good. Any issue, I call Norah. She helps me with my letters etc. and I call her for everything. I’ve been with her for 4 or 5 years and through that time she has always been available. Alisha now helps and I’ve had some English lessons. I am working, cooking part-time for a few hours per week. Many times, I have felt suicidal because of all that I’ve been through but the children keep me from doing that. Their father visits them but does not really help. They are growing up so I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. If it wasn’t for Norah and Penrose. I really can’t imagine what my life would be like. Just something as simple as getting my letters read and explained makes a world of difference. Now, I just want to work hard and help my children to finish secondary school and even get to university since I only had primary school education. I take medication to help with depression and stress.

Thank God for Penrose! No matter how many times I call, they always make time for me. If I was on my own, I wouldn’t be alive. But if you have children, you have something to live for.”

SIG Equnox - Brighton Women Service

SIG Penrose - Synergy Luton

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