Closure of Great Yarmouth refuge centre would affect many people

Case studies:

Lithuanians Donalda and Kestutis Antanauicius live in Caister with their five children after moving to Great Yarmouth three years ago.

'We were both working, we had a small holding with 22 pigs, chickens and growing vegetables but we still didn't have enough money to live properly,' said Kestutis, 36.

Kestutis works at Gressingham Foods, near Diss, leaving at 6am and getting home after 6pm with a 50-mile round trip every day.

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Donalda worked at Banham Poultry until her husband found a permanent job then stayed at home to bring up their children aged seven, eight, 10, 13 and 22. Their 22-year-old work works for the Lion Food group at Eye and children are at Caister High and Greenacre schools.

'GYROS has helped us since we arrived. It helped with our registration, communicate with the Home Office, find schools, our National Insurance forms and utility bills – everything

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'I don't want to think about what would happened without GYROS. They made sense of everything for us. We didn't have the money to pay anyone to translate and help us.

Donalda was a hairdresser in Lithuania and also opened her own stage school and her husband was a driver.

'We still couldn't afford any life. We were both working but we still couldn't afford shoes for the children if they needed them. They had to wait. Now we have money to live and buy the things we need. Wages are better. There is always food in the fridge.

'If we stayed in Lithuania our children would have grown up in poverty because we couldn't even afford to buy books for school – schools don't provide anything. Here they could go to university – one of their daughters has ambitions to be a doctor – if they work hard.'

Fellow Lithuanian Vida Mankiene, 46, lived in Great Yarmouth for six years and tragically lost her husband of 22 years when he committed suicide.

'GYROS helped me to organise his funeral and all the forms,'

She lives with her 15-year-old twin sons and her 22-year-old son, who works for the Two Sisters food group.

After jobs at the Kinnerton chocolate factory at Fakenham and Banham Poultry, she now works at Bernard Matthews.

'I moved here for work and the better life I can give my children. I am happy to work 10 hours a day. '

She gets up at 3.30 every day to organise the day for her children before leaving the house at 4.15am to get a bus to work to start work at 6am. She finishes work at 4.15 four days a week.

'GYROS has helped me with so much, I was having trouble with children outside my home and my children were having trouble with bullying at school.

'GYROS has helped us through the worst times and also with al the practical things like utility bills, communication.

'My dream is to save money and buy a house for my children here.'

Without GYROS, unscrupulous translators who would charge for help, she said, could exploit migrant workers.

When Maria Ramos was homeless with her three children soon after arriving from Portugal, GYROS stepped in.

They helped her with 'everything' - from putting her in touch with the Salvation Army to finding a room.

Now, working in two jobs, Maria has built a happy life for her family.

She works as a cleaner at Next three mornings a week and at Bernard Matthews.

'I go to Bernard Matthews in the afternoon after my cleaning and arrive home at about midnight.'

'If GYROS closed, it would be terrible. It is needed. I had no money for food or anything when I arrived.'

She found safety with GYROS, she said. 'I asked God to give me strength and GYROS was there.'

'GYROS can't close because it helps so many people and they will have no one. Before I came here so many people told me about it and the good it does.

Lidia Silva, support worker for GYROS, said Maria went through a rough time when she was homeless with her children.

'It is satisfying to be able make a difference to help and now see her working so hard and be so happy.'

Juliana Gomes, 35, from Angola has been in Great Yarmouth for five years 'Everything I have now is because of GYROS

She worked as a caravan cleaner and in a plastics factory, near Beccles, and now, at home looking after her youngest child, she is planning to train as a midwife.

'I'd love to work in a hospital as a midwife or midwife's assistant.'

Tanya Taveira, 27, is another full-time support worker. She came to Britain from Portugal with her mother when she was 19 and lives with her partner and four-year-old daughter.

Before she started to work at GYROS, she worked at a doctors' surgery.

'GYROS helps so many people. It is a vital service to a growing community.'

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