Anne has been back in the UK for 18 months. She talks about her deportation to the UK, and how she used her determination to ensure it saved her life, rather than hinder it.

The first time I really thought about my deportation was when I was in immigration detention. The hardest part was that I was going to leave my family – my children and my parents. I didn’t know how to feel. I was getting my freedom back but I was losing everything; it was almost like I was paying the price for my freedom.

I had two options: I can either do this as best as I can, or I don’t. That’s why I came to the UK with a new mind-set, not to go back to old ways. I’m 18 months clean and doing new things that I never would have done. Deportation was not as negative as it could have been apart from being away from my kids.

At Prisoners Abroad, many people are going through the same thing.

The process of getting housing was so hard. I struggled getting hold of my birth certificate which meant there was barrier after barrier. It’s hard enough to mentally cope when you’re being supported, so I can’t imagine what it would have been like without that help. I’d be homeless I’m sure. Prisoners Abroad sorted out and paid for emergency accommodation for two months and gave me food and travel grants so that I could manage in London. They helped me get a National Insurance number, paid for a new passport and referred me to Synergy, a drama school which really helped to build my confidence.

It’s hard making friends when you don’t know anyone in the country, but it’s a common ground at Prisoners Abroad as many people are going through the same thing. I am now in the process of writing my own play. As hard as it was and it still is, deportation saved my life.

Preventing homelessness is crucial.

Prisoners Abroad supports people who return back to the UK after prison; we find them somewhere to stay, provide grants for food and travel, and help them take the vital steps to a new life.