Aida* is a 46 year old Black woman from a working class background. She has one daughter, who she has put a great deal of love and support into. Aida is an incredibly warm, nurturing friend and mother, who has struggled a lot in her life, and when this happened, we wanted to support her…

Five years ago, Aida had an eptopic pregnancy, which caused her to lose her baby and sent her spiralling into depression. She almost died herself as a result of complications. She managed to fight through and survive, but lost her home in London as a result of this.

Due to all of this chaos and the mental health crisis it resulted in, Aida hadn’t managed to notify housing benefit about a change in circumstances.

Aida was homeless and sofa surfing, staying with various different friends. By the time the overpayment caught up with her it had already gone to court, but she only received the summons a few days in advance.

She wasn’t able to get legal representation in time for the hearing. She was manipulated into pleading guilty, her words were twisted and used against her in court, and she received the maximum penalty.

Aida carried out 250 hours of community service, but was still forced to pay a fine of £5,000 at £5 per week. For a few years she managed to keep more or less on top of this, but then she became homeless again, fell out of stable employment, and was back to living a precarious life of odd jobs and sofa surfing to survive.

Recently this has again caught up with her. In July 2019, she was ordered to pay the remaining £4,500 in full within two days, or face a prison sentence.

We heard about this, and miraculously we managed to get a loan from a friend of a friend – who has never even met Aida – that paid off £4,000 of her debt. She got the rest from a family member.

Aida describes the disbelief at the words on the telephone when she finally paid off the debt that had been strangling her for five long years: “Your case is now closed.”

All of us, and especially Aida, have been stunned by the immense solidarity that she has been shown. This loan has literally kept her out of prison.

Now we want to raise the money to refund the loan, and then use it as a fund to help out more people who are facing emergency situations. The plan is to use the money only for cases that we feel we can fundraise it back from, keeping the money available for more people to use it – a ‘Solidarity not Charity – Collective Resource Fund’.

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*Aida is an alias. Our friend doesn’t want to use her real name as she doesn’t want this story to rule her life any more.