Mariam was subjected to serious violence by her husband in a country which offers women little protection from family violence. She borrowed money secretly from a relative to flee to the UK with her daughter Zainab, after her first daughter was forced into marriage against her will by Mariam’s husband. She suffers from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of her experiences. With her daughter, she was accommodated in Suffolk, in the East of England region.
As Figure 3.1 shows, no legal aid advice is available in Suffolk, nor in the counties to the north and south, although all of those counties accommodate dispersed asylum applicants. Those to the west appear to be well supplied, with five providers having received contracts in September 2018 in the closest access point, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. One of them either lost or surrendered its contract within the first year, leaving four in Figure 3.1, and another did not open any cases in the year. All but one of those providers is in Northampton, to the far west of that access point, over two hours by car and three by train from Ipswich. The total number of cases opened in that access point that year was just 49. Eventually, Mariam found a solicitor in Bedfordshire, also over two hours away by train – a daunting journey for a woman suffering with anxiety and PTSD, and barely able to speak English.
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