Maria’s story

Maria is from Portugal but has lived in the UK for 14 years. She was sentenced to 2.5 years in custody for passing prohibited items to a prisoner during a visit. Her mental health is fragile, compounded by the loss of her partner from suicide and the separation from her children, one of whom she has not seen for five years. She keeps in contact with them by phone and letters. Maria was served with formal notification that she is liable to be deported to Portugal, but does not want to return as she regards the UK as her home and identifies as British. Hibiscus staff helped her understand official documents, advocated on her behalf, referred her to mental health agencies, and provided her with extensive emotional support in her mother tongue. Maria has attempted to address her problems, attending a substance misuse course, engaging with the mental health team and under taking work within the prison. Hibiscus were also able to put her in contact with a legal charity who have agreed to take on her case and help her challenge her deportation.