“I found out about Westminster Befriend a Family when I was at the Cardinal Hume Centre. (Based in south Westminster, the Centre works with homeless young people, badly housed families and others in need.) They were the ones who referred me to WBAF.”
Why did you need help?
“Life at the time was horrible. My husband had abandoned me and our son in London. I could not speak English; we had no money; we had no family or friends to help us. We had nothing.
“I’m originally from Colombia but had been living in Spain for many years where I met my husband. We came to London and were working in the theatres when we had our son. My husband walked out on us on the day of our son’s 7th birthday and went back to Spain. He refused to help us, his family were no help either and I was so far away from mine, so we were on our own.
“When he left my son was in shock. He needed counselling. The following year when I tried to organise something for his birthday he was too scared to celebrate. He remembered what had happened the year before and was still so hurt.”
What did WBAF do for you?
“WBAF helped us both so much. Everyone was so compassionate. The befrienders helped me fill in application forms for benefits and arrange the meetings. I didn’t understand the system here or how anything worked. They helped me find a course where I could learn English. They found sponsored activities for my son such as free swimming and karate classes. They organised a free trip to London Zoo for us. They even helped my son go on a week’s camping holiday outside London, and he so enjoyed all of it.”
How are you now?
“All of this helped us get back on our feet. My son is now a teenager. He is a good boy, a good student and an amazing son. And I am able to do a lot more for myself. Because of all the help I received I want to give something back to the community. Though I don’t have the skills to volunteer at WBAF, I volunteer at another charity helping organise coffee mornings and other events. I want to continue to improve my English so someday I can volunteer as a translator, too.
“I know what it’s like to be vulnerable and helpless. WBAF was so good to me and my son and we will forever be so grateful. I will always recommend this charity to others who are vulnerable and need support.”
Picture: A model