“Living in the UK as an immigrant is so messed up, they extort so much money from you, they treat you so unfairly.”
Shantania Beckford was left in the UK when she was seventeen years old in order to have a better life. In a recent video, she gives a powerful retelling of her experience, discussing the difficulties with being a homeless immigrant in England, how she managed to get herself through the hardship, and what she’s now doing to help homeless young people in the UK.
Briefly explaining her story, Shantania explains how she had to try to work around her circumstances in order to gain the money necessary to pay for legal fees and her citizenship papers. “I never ever asked anybody for any money,” she explained. “It’s always been me who works hard for everything that I have.”
Shantania used her hair and makeup skills in order to get together the money she needed for her papers and legal fees. “I feel like it’s a really important part of my journey because I was homeless, but also had that to deal with as well,” she says. “I was like, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, I literally got my papers when I started YouTube, in 2016.” Alongside her issues with the UK’s immigration system, Shantania also talks about her struggles with homelessness and how that affected her. “Being homeless was the hardest thing ever, because I felt like I was alone, like even the people closest to you don’t even look at you twice, even family,” she says. “I’ll never forget how people can leave you in situations like that. Do you understand how hard it is to make £1 stretch for the whole day?”
Talking about the influence she wants to have on the world, Shantania says that, “I want to be someone in this world. I know that if I left this world, I’m leaving a really good mark. I don’t want to be known for raising my following based off drama and ‘storytimes’, or being one of these glamour girls who have no substance. I want to be known as someone who actually helps people. People value people who actually have substance, who have actually given something.”
Coming away from her personal story, Shantania uses her platform to tell her audience about a t-shirt design she’s made, with all profits from this going to Centrepoint, a charity aiming to support homeless young people in the UK. “I know a lot of people don’t trust charities, but I am going to be tracking the money, where it goes, who it helps. If my names on this, I have to see exactly where the monies going and who the monies helping, because I want to see people actually being affected in a really good way by all the money that’s coming in from this t-shirt design.”
“If you work hard, you have a good heart, things happen for you,” she adds. “You just have to keep your chin up, work really hard and just have faith within yourself.”
Looking for more UK-based black creators? Check out Black Creators Matter, an educational and networking platform set up to connect black content creators from all over the world.
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