WHEN Lisette Possi could not take any more abuse and violence in her home country, she knew she had to flee.
Four years ago Lisette arrived in England from Cameroon, empty-handed and with little hope she could build her life again.
But thanks to the help of the British Red Cross, she is now learning English and maths and is a volunteer for the organisation.
Lisette, of Fratton Road, Fratton, said: ‘I fled my country because I was being tortured, there was nothing I could do and I had to get out from there.
‘I had to leave behind my three children, but it had got so bad I had to leave.
‘I came here empty-handed and I am slowly starting to get things back again.
‘The Red Cross has helped trace two of my children and we are still looking for the third at the moment.
‘I am now learning GCSE maths and English at Portsmouth College.
‘Finally now I am free and I can move on with my life – I cannot thank the Red Cross enough for their help.
‘I have been a volunteer with them for three years as I want to give something back and want to do so much more community work.’
The 44-year-old was on hand in All Saints Church, Commercial Road, Portsmouth, to provide warm meals and clothing to prepare for the winter to scores of refugees, who like herself have had to flee their country.
The Red Cross worked with the Salvation Army and the Haslar Visitors Group, to provide duvets, coats and hot food to around 200 refugees.
A knitting group from Gosport provided 85 hand-stitched woolly hats.
Angchhen Yeshi, service manager for the Red Cross, said: ‘Last year there was a really cold winter, so we decided to distribute duvets and coats early so people are prepared.
‘We’ve helped people that are destitute with these winter-warming items.
‘Also a lot of refugees feel isolation, and so this day was a great chance for people to meet and spend time together.’
Among some of the visitors was Ehsan Benjamin, who fled from her home country Sudan three years ago.
Ehsan, 60, of Nickleby House, All Saints Road, Buckland, said: ‘I had to leave because I was getting attacked.
‘I am Christian, but I was being forced to be Muslim.
‘I was a religious studies teacher at a church, and people used to attack me for it.
‘So I had to leave.
‘I am so grateful for all the help I have received and I am so much more happy now.’