My Dad spent three years in jail in Australia. It was mid-way through his sentence that he was told that anyone who was not a citizen and who had spent more than 12 months incarcerated, would be deported.

Dad had lived in Australia for 60 years when he was deported back to the UK. His life was and had always been here in Australia. He knew no one back in the UK, had no family left there, had no savings and not much money to his name at all and was just about to turn 77.

My world just collapsed in front of me. I didn't want to lose my dad. I wanted him to be here with us, see me going through life. I wanted him to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, for him to see me have children, and for him to be around while they were growing up. My Dad was my rock in life, full of experience and wisdom and someone I looked up to. The thought of losing him was incredibly painful. I felt Dad had been isolated enough. Friendships and relationships had already been lost here in Australia; he only had the support of a few people.

Dad being incarcerated was hard enough on us. Even though it was him in prison, I always felt like I was serving a sentence too. Staff gave you little respect, just because you chose to support someone incarcerated, and often you were treated like you had done something wrong too. This in itself was a lonely experience, day by day, pretending to others my life was normal. This saddened me enough, let alone the thought of him being in a country alone.

We were introduced to Prisoners Abroad through word of mouth from another prisoner. After our initial contact in 2016 I had a sense of calm. Prisoner’s Abroad didn’t judge you. They offered a service when no one else wanted to help you. Prisoners Abroad guided us through what Dad needed to do before leaving. This was a completely different world to me. I didn’t know the UK systems and processes and trying to find identification and documentation for someone who was currently detained and couldn't make the calls themselves was difficult, let alone someone who hadn’t lived there for 60 years.

While Dad was in detention he had some heart issues. This prompted me to make the decision to fly to the UK when we were notified of Dads deportation date. A cost I had never dreamed of, and a life here in Australia that I put on hold.

When Dad arrived in the UK we were allocated Rob as our resettlement officer and he was amazing. He made contact with us not long after we landed and within a day we were meeting with him. Rob directed us to the right places and the right people to find a place to live, open a bank account, access medical services and all the things in between.

These sound like the most basic things to arrange, but they were far from it. Banks in the UK don’t let you open an account without a fixed address, yet you can’t get an address until you find somewhere and have an income, yet applying for the pension takes 8 weeks and to apply for the pension you need an address! It’s an exhausting process. There were days that just felt like we were going around in circles, but no matter how hard or frustrating things were, Rob was still there supporting us to keep going and not give up. When our days were tough, he would try to find another way to help us. These were some of the biggest challenges, along with knowing that I was due to leave in a few days and I could be leaving Dad homeless still.

Six weeks after landing in the UK, and 12 hours before I was about to fly out, Dad was advised that a unit had been found for him. Unfortunately this was 3 hours outside of London, something unexpected but it was better than what he had currently; nothing. It was by far the hardest day of my life; saying goodbye to my Dad on a London tube as he was off to his new home not knowing when I would see him again.

One of my biggest fears with Dad being deported was isolation. I was scared he would die alone. Dad has now been in the UK for 7 months, and although he is pretty well set up, he is still quite lonely.

We wouldn't be this far if we didn't have the assistance from Prisoners Abroad, and for that I’m so thankful. Rob still touches base with Dad and I’m appreciative of this. I feel comfortable knowing that Dad has support; Rob can answer his questions and point him in the direction.

Prisoners Abroad have given my Dad a life, they have given him hope that this was not the end and they have given him opportunity, something everyone else, including my own country, had taken away from him. I cannot thank Prisoners Abroad enough, especially Rob, for all they do, not just for my dad but for everyone else that deserves dignity, equality and hope in life.