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Roma mum: Red Cross saved my family from starvation; Family was in poverty after move to Brum.

Byline: Chris Henwood

A ROMA mum-of-five has spoken of her struggle to beat starvation and prejudice after leaving Romania for Birmingham four years ago with hopes of a "better life".

Nadia Iorga, 35, from Stechford, said she could only feed her children flour from a church and battled with people looking at her "differently" after she moved to the West Midlands in 2008.

"Back then it was very diffi-cult," she said.

"We had nothing to eat, I didn't know how to add credit on my electricity card, and because we didn't understand each other the benefits authorities suddenly stopped my family tax credits."

Nadia spoke out as the city's Red Cross marked Gypsy Roma Travellers History Month, which runs throughout June.

As part of the month, the Red Cross offices in Camp Hill is celebrating the success of the Circles Project.

The Birmingham City Council-funded scheme helps members of the gypsy, Roma and traveller communities find new homes and gives them advice on services such as health and social care providers, education, employment and welfare. Nadia, a single mother from the Roma community, was among those to have benefited.

When the Red Cross started supporting her, she and her family were living in extreme poverty in a tiny, two-room flat.

"Being from another country, especially Romania, people looked at me differently and I couldn't find anyone to help me," she said. "I didn't know where to go or what to do to support my children.

"My son would tell me 'I'm hungry' but there was nothing I could do."

Through the Circles Project Nadia received food parcels, nappies, electricity tokens, housing advice and help to access benefits.

Mick Quigley, team leader for the Circles Project and Nadia's case worker, said: "When we first met Nadia she was living in very dangerous conditions. She had no food or income and none of her children were accessing education.

"The support we were able to give Nadia means she is now in affordable accommodation, her children all attend school and are doing very well and she has access to health care."

The Red Cross is currently looking for Romanian or Spanish-speaking volunteers to help with the scheme. Contact Angela Alves at spvolunteering@redcross.org.uk for more details.

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Struggle: Nadia Iorga has spoken of her battle to beat starvation after leaving Romania for Birmingham.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EXRO
Date:Jun 11, 2012
Words:393
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