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Alia’s story: building a new life

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After fleeing torture and persecution in Eritrea, refugee Alia is building a new life in the UK with the help of the Red Cross.

Following a sustained campaign of religious persecution and abuse, Alia* was forced to flee from Eritrea seven months ago. Upon arriving in the UK, she was relocated to Newport, South Wales where she was granted refugee status and put in touch with the Red Cross’ refugee support.

As she was imprisoned and tortured in her home country, the housing association in Newport made Alia a priority and offered her a council flat. However, the new arrival was completely alone in an unfamiliar country and desperately needed support during her first few months in the city.

A new home

Help soon arrived in the form of Theresa, a Red Cross service co-ordinator. She said: “I went with Alia to view the flat she had been offered, which was in a terrible state and also quite far from other people in Alia’s community.

“At first she wasn’t sure about the flat but I reassured her that, with the money she would receive from her community grant application, she could soon make it feel like home.

“Four weeks later, the flat looked fantastic. Friends helped Alia to redecorate and we bought furniture from a second-hand furniture project. By now she was receiving her benefits, so we also helped her to get connected to the gas and electricity supply.”

Grateful

Safely settled and comfortable in her new home, Alia could also rely on the Red Cross with help in other areas of her life. Theresa remembered: “Alia mentioned that her feet had been really painful for a while and she’d like me to go with her to see her GP. Following our visit, she has now been booked in for an x-ray and is awaiting her first podiatry appointment.”

Looking back on a busy few weeks, Alia said: “I’m so happy that I’ve been able to settle into my new home – I’ve even got an interview for a job with a local bakery. I’m so grateful for all the help the Red Cross has given me to help me settle into Newport.”

Theresa added: “When she left Eritrea, Alia had to leave behind her 11-year-old son. I’ve now put her in touch with Red Cross international family tracing so that hopefully, in time, he can join her in her new home.”

*Name has been changed to protect identity

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