No Longer Alone
When I contacted HHUGS, they were so friendly and welcoming, I was finally speaking to someone who genuinely cared about what I was going through and wasn’t afraid to talk to me. After hearing about my situation, they sent me ASDA vouchers immediately which was such a relief because I could finally buy food for me and my baby. They started helping me with rent payments, without which we would be homeless. They paid for food and winter clothing. I had so much debt when I contacted HHUGS but they helped me pay off my rent arrears, my water bill and my council tax arrears, which lifted a huge burden off my shoulders.
HHUGS began to help me see my husband by driving me there and dropping me home. The visits HHUGS organised were so important to me because I could no longer manage to go by train. When your husband is no longer in your daily life, you really look forward to that one visit. My son would ask me, “how many more sleeps until we see him?”
Eid was empty without my husband. These occasions are supposed to be spent with your loved ones so it was difficult to enjoy them without him. But HHUGS made it easier when they took me all the way to go and see my husband on Eid day. I remember saying to my Key Worker, “how is anyone going to take us?!” but these volunteers, who had their own families to deal with, actually took us all the way up north on Eid and I was so grateful to them for their genorosity. HHUGS even arranged Eid parties where there were bouncy castles, a candy floss machine and lots of activities where my son got to play with other kids. They got us gifts and during Ramadan I received a food pack and a little outfit for my son.
My Key Worker was such a wonderful person; she used to come round even though it was late and chill, without me having to ask her. She was an actual normal friend and that was really nice, because I didn’t have anyone like that in my life. When things were getting harder for me, she’d come and visit me more and she’d visit me in hospital. She even used to teach me how to read Qur’anic Arabic. I used to look forward to the coffee mornings to go and see sisters and eat something nice. Sometimes, you question whether you’re the only one going through this, but having someone to relate to really helps. Just being around people that don’t judge you genuinely means so much.
To help me get back onto my feet, HHUGS paid for some of my driving lessons and I passed first time! Afterwards, HHUGS helped me find a quote and paid for my insurance. Now, I I take a sister to go and see her husband in prison every week, because having a car has given me the independence and empowerment to give back and help others.
Reunited at Last
When my husband was released three years later, it was really hard for him to deal with it and adjust back into society. He was sick all the time, he couldn’t stay out for too long and whenever he’d try to go shopping, he had to come home quickly. He kept feeling like something was going to happen and that everyone was spying on him. We had to move away from our local area to a place we’re not familiar with. He feels really isolated here and hasn’t been able to adjust. The daily visits by police in our home and the tag he was made to wear, only made it harder for him.
My husband had been working his entire life so he found it hard not being the breadwinner anymore and not being able to work. After losing his initial job, he had two successful job interviews, but every time he gets offered a job, the police call up and warn them against him and he loses the chance again.
I believe the families who approach HHUGS really are in need of it. It’s not the families’ fault when their loved ones are in prison but the family seem to get a sentence too. The kids, wife, mother and sisters all have to live without those who have gone, they aren’t guilty so why are they being punished for it? They can’t purchase meat or get on a bus because they can’t afford it but HHUGS are there to help these people. Imagine how much reward you’ll get for helping someone who is oppressed on the Day of Judgement.
For families in a similar situation to mine, I’d say, don’t leave it too long before contacting HHUGS and don’t struggle like I did. I struggled because I didn’t talk to anyone, so don’t leave it as long as me. Even if you’re not looking for financial support, you’ll need the emotional support. And don’t be shy!
HHUGS are like a family to me, I honestly look at them as someone who is close to me and as people who I can trust. There’s nothing like HHUGS out there – you are totally unique!