Why I want to make a difference with Afrocats
We are really pleased that Pauline Adejumo has recently joined our board of trustees. She plans to use her lived experience to help with the strategic direction of our organisation so we can create meaningful change for the people we support.
We spoke to Pauline about her journey and how it will help shape Afrocats in the future.
Content warning: Descriptions of domestic violence and rape.
"I left Nigeria because of issues I was having in my marriage, I was a victim of domestic violence and to protect my daughter from female genital mutilation (FGM). My children were very comfortable in Nigeria and when we arrived in the UK they didn’t understand and wanted to go back. I knew we had to leave so that they could have a better life. I was really worried about my daughter, I didn’t want her to have to go through anything that I had.
"In Nigeria, domestic abuse is seen as normal. I once went to the police after my husband beat me, it was a very bad fight. After keeping me waiting at the counter for over two hours the policeman told me it was a family issue and then just sent me home. In Nigeria, if you are raped, they will tell you that you caused the rape. No one will believe you.
"I knew I had to protect my children so we left, and left all those things behind.
"When I arrived in the UK I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. But a little later on with the help of Revive, I claimed asylum with my children.
"I was pregnant at the time and the baby was born, I used all my savings to pay for my time in the hospital. It was around £1,800 but thankfully they refunded me £800 because I didn’t need extra care. So I had a new baby, two other children and just £800. It was very hard.
"After I claimed asylum, I got permission from the Home Office to work. It was life changing. I started working as a Teaching Assistant (TA) for children with disabilities and then studied for my level 1 and level 2 qualifications.
"After completing my Health and Social Care level 3 qualification I applied and got accepted to study Social Policy at Salford University. I began looking to see whether or not I could get a scholarship. But then, as God would have it, I got my stay so I was entitled to student finance. I’m now in my second year and working with people who have learning disabilities.
"Women that seek asylum should be given the information and supported to go to college and learn. This will help prepare them for when they get their documents. We leave our countries for a better life, we don’t want to come to the UK to just live on benefits. It made such a difference to be able to work because at the end of the month I had money to save and I could provide for my children. It helped me look to the future and looked after my mental health.
"As a Trustee for Afrocats, I want to ensure that women seeking asylum improve their skills, so they are prepared for when they get their stay. So things like how to use computers, how to apply for housing and for work.
"We need to do everything we can to give women their independence."