Zara's Story

COVID-19 caused women and girls fleeing domestic violence and distress.  The Anah Project provides 24-hour specialist crisis support, advice and safe refuge accommodation for Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) lone / single women and girls ages 16 and above, who are facing homelessness due to experiencing or fleeing domestic abuse.  It received a grant from the LandAid Covid-19 Fund, which became a sort of ‘happy fund’ for residents. It enabled Anah to ensure its residents could maintain connections with the outside world and regular networks and covered service charge – enabling residents to buy day-to-day essentials and prepare for leaving Anah.

Zara was one of the women that benefitted. This is her story.

When Zara was 16, she discovered her family had secretly planned to take her to Pakistan to force her into marriage.  Upon discovering the family plans, she fled home, with no belongings and approached the police for help.

At the time, she was due to take her GCSE exams and had been doing really well at school, but the uncovered plans raised serious concerns about her personal safety and whether it was safe to even sit her exams at her current school.

The Police and Social services were able to get her in touch with the Anah Project.  The Anah Project provide 24-hour crisis advice and support including safe temporary refuge accommodation for Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic women fleeing domestic abuse.

"When I arrived at the Project, I felt overwhelmed with relief; although I was still scared, I did feel safe. 

I had weekly one-to-one key working sessions, and this is where I really started to heal. My support worker helped me create a plan about what I needed, what I hoped to achieve and how I was going to get there. She also helped me think about how I can become more independent. In and amongst the heartache of missing my family I felt supported.

I was supported to attend various learning and training opportunities such as self-defence, stress management, attend the gym, attend yoga, access employment Initiatives, attend move-on Into independent living training and was also able to complete a Youth Workers Leaders Award.

Through these opportunities, I started volunteering at a Local Youth Community Centre, which led me to become a Youth Engagement Officer with West Yorkshire Police.

This is where I have been able to turn my negative experiences into positive training for 16 –19 year old young people engaging with the Youth Service. I have now completed the bronze level for the ‘Young Leaders Ambassador’s Network’.

While at Anah, I developed confidence and self-esteem.  I was able to make some good friends and establish good support networks. I have been able to complete my A-Levels, obtained good grades and have now started a Diploma in Health & social Care Level 2."

While at Anah through COVID-19 I was able to access LandAid grants that helped me to stay safe and reduced some of the financial distress this pandemic has caused.

"The grant from LandAid allowed Anah to purchase Personal Protective Equipment for the residents and this made me feel less anxious and more confident about keeping safe.

With this grant, I was also able to have a break from paying my service charges and use the money elsewhere. I could not believe it when staff told me about this fund.  I was overjoyed. This fund felt like a ‘happy fund’.  The grant made me feel valued and important.  With the money I saved, I was able to afford to buy key items for my new home. 

I moved into semi-independent living in June 2020."

*Zara's name has been changed and an image not used to protect her identity