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Get Ready For A Bright Day

I fell ill just before the pandemic. I was hospitalised for quite some time and when I came out, I didn't have anywhere to live. My GP advised me to go to St. Mungo's. They helped me a lot, they gave me accommodation. It was a university campus, but there were no students because of the lockdowns, so the council was putting people there. I was there for some time. Eventually the council was relocating people, but I couldn't fall into that programme because I have no recourse to public funds. That's when Connection Support took over, filling that gap. They gave me a place to live. We had to move a few times, but eventually they put me here in Thame.

The stability of having somewhere to call home, the convenience of like bus passes, and the £50 that I get every week, have made quite a difference. Things like phone bills, toiletries, you know, I can now afford. And the house feels like a home: there's a living room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, garden. My favourite thing is the gardens, front and back, there’s lots of flowers, everything. I'm looking after it, mowing the grass, weeding. I'm trying my best. I don't have all the gardening equipment, so I borrow, I'm getting to know the neighbours. I asked for a lawnmower, a trimmer and things like that. Most people are friendly. There will always be one idiot here and there, but it's been very good. People are clever in Oxford, very switched on. And they're not pompous about that. You can easily be conversing with a doctor, or a specialist and you don't even know because of how polite they are, how humble. People are quite easy-going, especially in Thame.

I work with Asylum Welcome as well. Aspire, Asylum Welcome and Connection Support are all working together on this project. They sort of complement each other. If you need things like food, you know, Asylum Welcome give people hampers. Monetary assistance as well, and legal advice, pertaining to immigration status. I think Connections is there to be support workers, and then Aspire are maybe the providers of the house, and the equipment, the white goods inside and things like that. So they're working very closely together, you can't really tell who's in charge of this and that, but they’re all helping. If there are any issues, any problems, Connections would know how to solve it, or who to refer, to get it solved. They also mediate in a lot of things. I've got health issues, so I always go to the hospital and things like that. They facilitate if you need transport, to and from, that sort of thing. The only thing that I think could have gone better, is to vet people they're going to put together in the same house. You know, to check if people are compatible. Because it can be a hot pot, people are different in their habits. Coexisting can be quite difficult. I was given a house that was almost new, everything had been done inside. People look at that sort of thing, the importance of a clean house differently. But where I'm living it's alright.

Connections, they don't do a lot of wrong things! They're very good at what they do, very helpful. Sometimes, if you're dealing with any support organisation, they may not be punctual about responding to your problem. But at Connections, they're excellent, they really are support workers, you know? They support you 100%. They put the emphasis into the clients, which is quite remarkable. I run out of things, depending on what time of the month it is, sometimes the money that we get is not enough, because maybe your phone bill goes out, you know. I've been in situations without money for groceries. And if you ask them to chip in, they've always been there. I've never gone without in situations where they can help. They are there and they don't avoid you, they don't say, ‘Oh, we helped you last month, or two months ago.’ Anything that I need, anytime, even when they’re not supposed to be working, even on weekends, if I have an issue, they’ve always been helpful. With other organisations, you can't blame them, when it's their time off, it's their time off, they don't want to be disturbed. But with these guys, I've noticed they're always there. Once I lost my keys on a Sunday, and someone came to give me another set. That's how they are.

They treat their job passionately. I've noticed that they help you as if you're paying for that service, you know? Normally for people to treat you right, probably you will be paying something, but that level of professionalism, I see it in Connections, even though it's them that are helping us, you know, it's charity, isn't it? It's remarkable. I didn't know it could get this good. I think it's important because, at the end of the day, people who are in the same predicament as me, most of them do not really want to be in that situation. I don't really want to be helped, I’d like to be independent. That kind of service that they offer gives people who are willing to extricate themselves from their problems conducive environments to address things. I'm working towards my papers, my immigration, I am trying to come up with something that I will do when everything is alright. Their support provides me with a good space to get ready for a bright day.

A bright day is relative. To someone with a million dollars, a bright day could be the day they become a billionaire, you know. A bright day, to me, would be one where I can provide, where I can stand on my own. There is pride and a sense of achievement in being autonomous. It doesn't always leave you with a good sense of pride if you only receive and never give, you know? I've got causes close to my heart, I want to be in a situation where I can actually help out. So that's a bright day, when you can stand on your own.

I do a lot of research. I love reading. I'm a reading person, you know? I start books but I'm not always good at finishing! I'm always into a lot of topics, I enjoy things like space exploration, artificial intelligence, global issues. I've been following closely how they're developing electric vehicles, how they're harnessing energy. I'm a qualified engineer, so I know these things. I qualified in Africa, I’m from Zimbabwe. I studied electrical-mechanical and automotive engineering. My father was an engineer as well. He actually studied here and then he went back to Africa, this was in the 60s and 70s. He died early, but when I was growing up, I was just fascinated by what he always had around. He could make things out of nothing. That's how I acquired the taste for engineering.

There's places I read about where they don't even know what's going on with the environment, you know? They are abusing the environment, not because of their liking, but because of ignorance. Certain communities are deprived of even the tiniest bit of knowledge. Even certain parts of the developed world. And then things like, in Africa, there is a lot of infant mortality, because of poor sanitation, poor access to cheap generic drugs, things like that. I’d like for people who can help out to know more about where there's an issue. Just education itself. I think everyone deserves education, regardless of what they intend to use it for, at least the basic education. There are regions of the world where certain people are deemed a waste. There are certain areas where a girl child cannot even access the basics. These are issues that are close to my heart. One day, if it all works out, I'll be an advocate on a lot of issues. One day I will!

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