Isha lives in one room in a house of multiple occupation, she shares the room with her husband and 2 children, a 6 year old and a 6 month old. She shares a kitchen and bathroom with 2 other families and 2 single people. Isha and her husband have ‘no recourse to public funds’ which means they have no entitlement to the majority of welfare benefits, including income support, housing benefit or tax credits. This also means they cannot apply for social housing, so the cheapest private rented housing is their only option.
When the pandemic stuck and the country went into lockdown Isha’s husband lost his job, he was working in restaurants for cash in hand jobs. This was a very difficult time, as they were earning no money and unable to buy food or other essentials. Others in the house helped them on occasion ‘an aunty in the house bought diapers and milk for my baby’ but they were rapidly running out of options. Fortunately, a health visitor referred them to Bonny Downs and they were able to get support from the food Bank, plus some vouchers for essentials items. In addition, they got an appointment with an immigration adviser to assist with their visa application.
Isha stated, ‘’They are very helpful. I am only one person, there are lots of people in here struggling, over time I know how many people come there to weekly Food Bank, lots of people coming to there because of no food..no money for buying some items. That's why I think they are very kind, Bonny Downs are very useful for local people… I don't know what to say, lots of migrants are in here they can't (get) any government support because of no visa status but Bonny Downs not asking any visa status or anything like that. They give food and food vouchers, that is very useful for every person’.
Isha hopes that in the future she will be able to find a part time job to supplement the family income and eventually find better housing. ‘For Bonny Downs in the future …I wish they help everyone, all the same, … every human is equal. Equality is the most important thing’.