Ella’s is one of our key project partners. Since 2018, we have supported their work with £155,000, enabling them to open their second London safe house and develop their survivor support services. This is Marie’s story, an inspirational Fashion and Textiles student who was supported by Ella’s to regain her freedom and independence:
Marie was trafficked to the UK by family when she was just a child. She was kept in forced labour for eight years, during which time she was physically, emotionally and mentally abused.
When she was a teenager, Marie was sent back to West Africa, but things became even worse. She was deeply traumatised by what she’d been through, and suffered a serious mental breakdown. No-one knew what to do, so Marie was locked in a room and subjected to more abuse, including exorcism. ‘I felt hopeless,’ says Marie.
Eventually, Marie was hospitalised, where medics recognised her vulnerability. They worked with an organisation to help Marie to return to the UK for her safety, which is when she was referred to Ella’s.
‘Ella’s were so welcoming to me,’ says Marie. ‘When i opened the door, I fell in love with the room and i felt an instant relief.’
Marie says the support and community at Ella’s have helped her in so many ways. Since coming to Ella’s, she has not been hospitalised once for mental health reasons.
‘Ella’s have been more than a family to me. We cook together, we laugh. I just feel really grateful that i am not in this alone. They helped me to access my university course. They helped me to get benefits, and i am doing a degree in fashion and textiles. I feel so liberated, I feel so free.’
The casework support and community provided by Ella’s have made the world of difference for Marie. She recently moved out of Ella’s safe house into a flat, and is continuing to recover; building a life that is independent, safe and free.
On the wall of Marie’s old bedroom at Ella’s is a mural that she painted herself. It is of a face that has been split into two halves, surrounded by flowers. ‘The dark part symbolises the night,’ says Marie. ‘And the light part symbolises the day. I drew the flowers to symbolise hope. Because regardless of the season, they grow.’
‘Before I got here, I was really shattered emotionally. But…Ella’s have nourished me to become the person I’ve become today which is really confident and it’s all thanks to them.’