This is Saadiya's story*

My husband was not good. He was 33 years old and I was 17. He insulted me and hated me. He did not like my girls as he wanted boys. I had many problems with my husband. I went to one organisation to ask for help and they refused. My husband was a political member, so they were afraid to help. I tried to make a case against my husband, but it was very difficult to stay in my country with my children.

After arriving in the UK in September 2012 I applied for asylum. It was really difficult. I was so scared for my life. At this time I felt so lonely. 

Einir came with her family to my house with a big Welcome Box. It felt really good! There were lots of things in it: toys, things for the bath, lots of nice things! She arranged for lots of communication with other people who lived near me who could help me. Sometimes they brought cakes and other things to make me and my children happy! Einir would invite us to her house and we could eat dinner together.

Einir arranged to bring me to Upbeat Communities every Thursday. It was good to feel busy again. I felt good. I joined the English class and sewing club. I got to make friends from lots of different countries. They are all good people. My English got a lot better by coming to Upbeat Communities and I enjoyed learning to sew! Einir also saw that I didn’t have a jacket so she got one for me.

Everyone at Upbeat Communities is very helpful and kind. All the time. Einir also took me to church on Sunday where I met lots of good friends. I went there lots of times, including Christmas day. I got nice gifts for Christmas which I still have now and my children enjoyed very much.

It took three and a half years for me to get permission to remain in the UK. I was refused three times before they finally trusted me. People at Upbeat Communities were all friends to me through this time. They were praying for me and gave me hope. They texted me all the time and were lovely.

Life now is so much better, so good. I feel like freedom! 

Welcome Boxes began in Community Church Derby, who set up Upbeat Communities to help strangers become neighbours.  Community Church Derby has seen their church grow to be around 20% non-white British, many of whom are from a refugee background. We are now helping other churches across the UK to be good news for refugees arriving in their communities too.

*name changed for confidentiality