“My real name is not Ruun Raja but call me Ruun. I am 26 years old and from South Asia. I came to the UK on a spouse visa. I was looking forward to coming to a new country and starting a new life with my husband. Within the first month of our marriage, I suffered from serious domestic abuse. I do not have any relatives or family in the UK, and the person that I married and trusted turned out to be my abuser.
I was moved from the place where we were living to a safe shelter for my own protection. I was very lonely and started suffering from depression. I was under a lot of pressure and going through a troubled time. My caseworker from the shelter had told me that I had to sign on to get benefits for food, and to apply for housing benefit so that I could stay in the shelter. I had never heard of benefits before and I was completely lost. I just wanted to lock myself in a dark room and never come out. I cannot explain the pressure I was facing. In the end, I had to sign on with Streatham Job Centre.
The Job Centre Advisor told me that I needed to look for work and search for jobs on a regular basis to receive benefits. I did not know where to start. I explained my situation to my Job Centre Advisor and he referred me to Lambeth Adult Learning and MI Computsolutions’ ICT and job search courses. He assured me that the staff there would understand and look after me.
When I met my tutor, Mustafa, he told me that he understood my situation and that everything would be fine. They gave me travel tickets to come to class while I was waiting to receive my benefits, as my claim was on hold. My tutor helped me to obtain a National Insurance number and I was able to receive benefits. I started enjoying the class, and I started trusting my tutor and the other learners. I also started making friends with other learners in the class and my confidence grew.
I completed my Entry Level 3 ICT Functional Skills and Maths Functional Skills courses, then completed a job search course. I learned how to create a professional looking CV and write a cover letter. I learned different ways of applying for jobs such as visiting employers and speaking to them in person. I used these skills to find a volunteering position with the British Heart Foundation, which I consider a giant step towards getting back my independence and eventually finding a job. I would not have completed my courses, made new friends or gained the confidence to become independent without the support of Mustafa, MI Skills Development Centre and Lambeth Adult Learning.”