52 Lives

#206 Chantel

Request: Donations / Household goods / Messages

This week, we’d like to help a mum and her 2 children, who have been living in extreme poverty.

Chantel has been living in the UK for 16 years. Her children were born here and she was working full time as a teaching assistant. Her Visa was dependent on her partner, but he was abusive and eventually abandoned them, so she had to apply for a new Visa in her own right. Her application was rejected as they didn’t feel she had enough funds support the children. This meant Chantel had to leave her job, and also wasn’t eligible to claim normal benefits. They were destitute. For almost a year, she had to rely on friends and donations from her local church to feed and clothe her children.

They were living in a damp, mouldy 1 bedroom flat and often ran out of money on their electricity meter, which was a constant source of fear and anxiety for her 11 year old son, who has autism. He would check the meter the moment he got home from school and continue the checks all evening – he was terrified that the lights would go off again.

Chantel begged her local council for help for 8 months, but they (incorrectly) told her that no support was available to her. The local mayor has since apologised and Chantel and her children are now receiving some basic support, they have also been rehoused and she in the process of getting her Visa sorted out.

Although they’ve moved, her son still attends the same secondary school as they are able to meet his needs and Chantel feels it would be too disruptive for him to move. This means Chantel, her son and her 2 year old daughter get up at 5.30am and travel for an hour and 20 minutes to get to his school. She can’t afford to make the journey more than twice a day, so Chantel and her 2 year old wait all day for her son to finish school – either at a local charity centre or in Asda. Chantel said: “It’s not healthy for the baby. It’s not healthy for myself. I’m worn out by the end of the day.”

Chantel and her children have been through an awful time, and they are still struggling. With your help, we would love to show them some kindness.

(Photo courtesy of The Guardian / The Magpie Project)

What We Need

1. Donations: To help cover some of their travel costs, school uniforms, clothes and shoes for the children, some bigger items for their flat, and living expenses. 100% of what you give will be used to help Chantel and her children.

2. Household items: We'd love to help to make their new flat feel like home. We've set up a wishlist with all of the things they need. To buy an items from the wishlist, please click the link below. When you buy an item from the wishlist, it will be delivered directly to  Chantel. 

3. Cards and messages: To send a kind message to Chantel, please either write your message in the form below (your contact details will not be passed on) or you can post it to 52 Lives (Life # 206), PO Box 3154, Reading, RG1 9AT.

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(if you are sending a message of support for the person we’re helping, there is no need to fill in your email address or telephone number)

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