News & Stories


Inspiring Women: How Alesha is ‘Doing it Alone’

Data shows that female migrants are more vulnerable to discrimination and mistreatment than their male counterparts (Migration Data Portal, 2020), so with International Women’s Day coming up on the 8th March, MiFriendly Cities think it’s important to celebrate the inspirational stories of migrant and refugee women. In this article we hear about Alesha, a single mother that migrated to the UK to look after her British child, and how she overcame barriers to support her family in the UK.

Alesha was given ‘Leave to Remain’ to look after her British child but was refused Recourse to Public Funds (that is, access to benefits). A hardworking single mum determined to leave the child’s abusive father and support her family, Alesha worked endlessly in the care sector. Despite this, nursery fees and rent alone exceeded Alesha’s income, and she struggled to spend time with her toddler, desperately trying to make ends meets.

Referred through Coventry Women’s Partnership, Alesha agreed to meet with Central England Law Centre’s MiFriendly Cities advisor at the time, Inger. Inger believed that it was worth trying to make an application for access to benefits. Supported by Inger, Alesha’s application was well evidenced, and the Home Officer granted her access to benefits.

Alesha was over the moon, “I’m so teary… It will make a big difference. I could not have done it without your help”. But it was Alesha’s hardworking nature and determination to support her family that allowed MiFriendly Cities to help her case.

The benefits Alesha can now apply for will help her to afford childcare whilst she works. The family’s life will now be a lot less stressful. She will be ‘free’ to shine and contribute to her local area.

Alesha’s bravery and resolution to make a better life for her child is apparent in many refugee and migrant women that are being ‘held back’ by the systems in place. We hope that her story will inspire others in this position to engage with our free Legal Health Checks and create a narrative around the unique struggles being faced by migrant and refugee women.

If you have been inspired by Alesha’s story, and believe you or someone you know could benefit from a FREE Legal Health Check, please email Bal has replaced Inger as the project’s legal adviser.

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European Union & Urban Innovative Actions

This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative.