Roy, 80, was deported to the UK after living in Australia for 53 years. 

For many people the 24 hour flight is traumatic anyway – but my age makes it even more difficult, but that’s no excuse really. It was very stressful travelling to Doha and the long flight was traumatic, it definitely wasn’t a good start. It was less stressful on the last leg of the journey back to the UK but I was very worn out – I was exhausted by the time I got to the airport. I was met by the police and that wasn’t difficult but it just added to the exhaustion I felt. It was a delicate situation trying to get through everything.

The Australian government paid for me to stay a week in a hotel, which was a false sense of security really. There was no mention about what was going to happen next. I had the money to sort my own meals out but it wasn’t going to go very far. It was a long walk from the station to the hotel, I was stressing physically and mentally. But it’s mainly a mental thing, you gear up for moving further and walking further.

During that week Rob from Prisoners Abroad got in touch with me, we had already had written contact but it was good to talk on the phone once I was back in the UK. It was a long trek to get to Prisoners Abroad from Stratford, it was hard to travel long distances by myself and with so much uncertainty in my mind it was even harder. I was physically exhausted and I got stranded at one point between two flights of stairs, but I was lucky that some kind people helped me. There’s no way to get over that kind of thing, but I feel much fitter now than I did. I came down here and met Rob which was great.

I feel better off than many. 

Rob started working with me and the appointed council were the people who were to sort out my housing. I travelled down there from Stratford and it was a long day. I was to-ing and fro-ing from there which was hard given my age. They put me in hostel first of all and it was a very difficult environment to live in. I had a bed, 1 plug and a toilet and shower. There were no chairs or tables but there was a laundry for washing and drying, there was a communal kitchen which was always filthy. I called the ambulance a couple of times and was hospitalised both times. There was a lift but there was 24 steps to it – I counted! But it could have been worse. I had no hassle with anyone staying there.

I got quite unwell and was picked up by an ambulance. Prisoners Abroad put in a statement to say that it wasn't suitable and thankfully I was given somewhere else to live. I had to go and sign all these forms, it was all jargon it hardly meant anything to me and no one seemed to explain much. I had three pieces of luggage which was just clothes and personal belongings. When I arrived at the flat I realised it was unfurnished, there was nothing there at all, but I thought 'I’ll make the best of this' – it’ll just take time.

Rob sorted me out with an emergency camp bed. it was hard putting that together as an 80 year old. I had a duvet and covers so I didn’t get cold. I slept on that for two weeks. I got a cooker so I started eating eggs and bacon which I hadn’t had in years. It has all been traumatic.

And the traumas of sorting out a bank account. Rob was trying to speed things up. I get continuing encouragement from Prisoners Abroad, they are always lively and positive. I feel better off than many. 

Without Prisoners Abroad’s help I would have been in real strife.  I’m mentally quite strong but at times I was getting closer and closer to thinking about how I was going to stop this, you have many thoughts when you are going through so much drama.

The hardest thing has been finding accommodation. Rob helped me find a roof over my head, and a suitable one. So that I can now feel safe and I can now move.

Some people think why should I help and why should I care? Prisoners Abroad don’t think like that.

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.