Adriana emailed our resource centre with a simple message in English “Please help me” this message was passed on to the refuge.

Adriana’s use of English was limited mainly due to the lack of contact she was allowed with others. However, she had been able to use the interpreting bar on the home computer to translate her needs from Polish to English. Refuge staff returned her e-mails to advise that we may be in a position to help her if we had some more details.

Adriana was frightened and reluctant to give us her address and she had no access to a phone in order for us to direct her to the Helpline. Adriana had four children and was living in terror of her husband. She was totally financially dependent on him as he worked full time. Adriana was unsure if she would be entitled to any benefits including social housing and was terrified of making a move in case he found out she was planning to leave. She was also frightened of disrupting the children, having to leave their schools etc.

We were able to communicate with Adriana by email and advised her of what support was available for her from Women’s Aid. We encouraged her to bring important documents such as passports, birth certificates and any personal belongings she could get out of the house in order to help the children settle in. She had no money and no access to getting any. We encouraged her to delete all the e mails before leaving in case she could be traced.

Adriana made an appointment with Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM). She gave us the time and day of her appointment and with her permission we were able to work with a member of staff there who was fluent in Polish. We agreed to hold a free room for a couple of days in order to allow Adriana to maximise her and children’s safety in terms of finding the best time to leave. When Adriana was ready to leave we were able to organise a taxi to bring her to the refuge.

Through using the Big Word telephone interpreting service we were able to identify areas of support in relation to housing, benefit entitlement and immediate practical needs for Adriana and her children. We have also been able to do some work with the children in relation to helping them through their experiences as their English is quite good.

Adriana and her family have settled well into refuge life and Adriana is growing in confidence each day. The children have since settled into local schools and have been accepted onto the list for social housing.