The LHF is proud to support the excellent work of Prisoners Abroad, who won second price, and £20,000, in the London Homelessness Awards 2017. We asked two people they have supported to tell us their stories. Desmond’s blog first appeared on the Prisoners Abroad site www.prisonersabroad.org.uk
I was in detention for 15 months for illegal entry into the USA – I had cancer when I was put into detention, and was receiving treatment up until that point. When I was detained, all treatment stopped. That was my biggest concern – my health and my future, which was made even harder by the fact that I was grieving for my daughter who had recently died. It was a very tough time.
I spent a lot of time waiting and worrying – time went slowly and I seemed to have an endless amount of it.
I often think, when one thing goes bad, everything goes bad.
When I got in touch with Prisoners Abroad through the British Embassy things started to speed up – the wheels started turning and I was receiving treatment again for my cancer. It gave hope. I am so grateful for this help.
I was in my cell for up to 16-17 hours a day, and you can’t sleep that long, because your mind is just racing. I exercised when I could. We were on the 7th floor of the prison and during the entirety of my 15 month sentence I didn’t once set foot outside – not once did I breathe fresh air. The most I got was through a caged railing in one of the communal areas in the prison.
I am now back in the UK and Prisoners Abroad are helping me sort my life out – they organised me somewhere to stay when I returned, and have helped me face the challenging housing market. They are also helping me look for work, assisting me with the challenges of finding a job with a criminal record. I feel good, I feel strong, but I know I couldn’t have done it alone.
To find out more about the London Homelessness Awards and how you can apply in 2018 go to www.lhawards.org.uk