Without the wonderful partners who support our work we would find it hard to give the holistic support we currently provide for clients.

We first met Mrs J and her son M around 2 years ago. Mrs J is a remarkable woman from Nigeria who came here some years ago with her son who has Down’s Syndrome. Until this year he attended an excellent school in Colchester which gave him exactly the right support and cared for the family in many ways.

However, Mrs J had no recourse to public funds and was not permitted to work when she arrived. She was also unsure of her right to remain here. Even more desperate was whether or not her son, approaching 18, would be required to leave. In his home country services for those with Down’s Syndrome are far and few between. His condition was not even recognised/diagnosed in Nigeria and it was not until she came here that Mrs J found out more about it. He also has significant health needs which are looked after here very well.

Working with a partner organisation RAMFEL (, who visit our offices every 6 weeks to extend their reach into North Essex, Mrs J has now been granted the right to work.

Her son now has the right to remain and also recently was awarded access to public funds. This should enable him to apply for further education courses and get the support he needs. He also has a NI number now and may be able to access some work through wonderful places like Level Best Café.

And another partner, EEO, have assisted mum, helping her build her confidence, write a CV and find work!

Individuals have also provided help passing a catering hygiene course for mum and offered friendship and trips out, which was an impossibility before things improved.

A sign of having done what was asked by our clients is that over time we see them less and less as they are enabled and empowered. Sometimes, as with Mrs J, we get photos and updates of achievements and successes. Its always great to see how the partners we refer on to support our clients and how that team approach often leads to success.

Her latest call on hearing about M’s right to continue in education came with an offer to fundraise for us. ‘Really’ she says ‘I am so grateful for all that has happened since I came to this office. We are safe now and I want to help you to help people like me’.

Maria Wilby – RA-C Case Worker