A YOUNG mother in Arbroath is desperate to find work to prevent her being separated from her family.
Elina Zalaiskalna (19) faces rising debts and the threat of deportation to Latvia despite having stayed in Arbroath for four years.
At the age of 16 Elina moved to Arbroath after her mother found work in the town and attended Arbroath High School.
With an excellent grasp of English, Elina achieved an A in Higher English for speakers of other languages as well as Access qualifications in Spanish and French.
Shortly after leaving school to work Elina fell pregnant and gave birth to Demarcus (18 months) who has British citizenship from his father.
Elina said: “I have all my family here now, there’s nothing for me in Latvia. I have my mother, sister and brother who was born here.”
Elina worked as seasonal relief at Mackays jam factory but that position ended in mid-December.
She explained: “I applied for Income Support and they told me that I’m not entitled to even be in the country.
“I went to a solicitor and they told me they couldn’t help me and the only way for me is to work, study or marry a British citizen. I just don’t get it, as far as I’m concerned, because I’m a European Union citizen I should be entitled to live here.”
Despite being told she is not eligible Elina does receive benefits. She said: “Basically I have to give all my benefits to rent, I’m getting employment support because I’m on anti-depression tablets.
“It’s not easy to handle this, getting these letters all the time and I have a baby to look after.
“My most recent letter said they had suspended housing benefit and that I was due them £500.
“If I wasn’t entitled to be here I wouldn’t be getting any benefits at all, but obviously I’m getting child benefit and tax credits.”
Elina continued: “It’s not like I choose to be on benefits, I absolutely hate it. I want to work and I want a job but it’s difficult, if even Scottish people struggle to find work, who would take on a foreign person?
“What I really hope for is that someone offers me a job. I’ve already applied for college, my dream is to be a psychologist and I’ve applied for the NHS Social Science course but I’m on the waiting list just now.”
SNP Arbroath East and Lunan councillor Donald Morrison has taken on Elina’s case.
He said: “We are trying to help the individual as best we can and we are trying to resolve this. We are in contact with the relevant authorities, including the local authority.”