One day at a time

First of all I will introduce myself. My name is Parveen Chowdhury.
I was born in Bangladesh in 1962. I came to England when I was five
years old. In 1973 I went back to Bangladesh with my mum – she was
ill with typhoid and had been advised to return. We came back to
England in January 1982 when I was 19 years old.

I was married on 31 May 1982 but it ended after three months. What
happened was he left me because his father was ill. I was sad to
see my husband go, but he was not my type – my mother had arranged
the marriage – and he used to beat me up. My father told him to get
out of my life. He went to Bangladesh and never came back.

I went to Brixton College and I studied English. I had my own shop
in Brixton Centre in south London. I sold clothes, materials,
three-piece suits, saris, English dresses and cardigans, vests and
T-shirts. Business wasn’t good – people didn’t want to buy clothes
all the time, so the shop closed and I went to a day centre in

No one would give me a job. I went to several interviews.
Unfortunately Iwasn’t successful. I was unemployed for eight years.
Then in 1989 I went to do voluntary work. I did some voluntary work
in Shared Community, Age Concern and some other projects in The
London Borough of Lambeth.

I was caring for some older people, looking after the house. They
were mostly disabled people. I looked after people in their homes.
And I would take care of the house as well. What they did was give
me a set of keys. I’d keep an eye on the house and cleaned
everything that needed to be cleaned.

I also worked as a volunteer at Lambeth Accord, a charity that
promotes the integration of disabled people into society. I went
there as well and did office work and catering. After that I
started college. Here Ilearned about City and Guilds and NVQs and
so on.

In about 1995 I joined Pathway Employment Service at Clapham Common
in south London. It found me a job with Mencap. So Pathway did a
lot of stuff for me. The workers were David Williams and Carl. Carl
used to take me to St James Park to the education and employment
service there. I did a six-week work trial but I never succeeded in
that department.

Another worker at Pathway was Charlotte. She took me to Mencap’s
national offices and showed me around and what they doing there.
Mencap gave me a job. For three and a half years, it was a
successful job which I’ll never forget. It also gave me a lot of
support to do my job but after three years and a half they made me
redundant. After redundancy, I am at home. One day a week I go to
college but the rest of the time basically I am looking for work.
Pathway suggested I went to college but the tutors there don’t
think I am physically able to do the computers. So it’s one day at
a time and see how it goes.

Parveen Chowdhury is a service user with a learning

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