Elga's toughened face is lit up by the smile of a proud mother as she flicks through her precious album. She leaves the photos in the safe hands of church volunteers while she trudges the wintry streets of Hounslow in case they are stolen - but they are still well-thumbed.
They tell of a life of wooden houses, a daughter with blond pigtails, pine trees and a mechanics job in a local factory that is now threatened by a global downturn that has hit Latvia hard, leading to soaring inflation, hunger, an IMF bail-out and riots in the capital Riga earlier this month.
The pretty daughter, now 18, needs money to study but Elga lost her job, so she paid a friend of a friend £200 to get her to Britain and find her a job. Her daughter has no idea that the 'friend' took the money and ran leaving Elga penniless, homeless and ashamed.
Instead of her rustic home in a suburban street, Elga and a Latvian friend she met here rise in the pitch black cave of a concrete hut at the bottom of a field, known to the homeless as a good place to stay but not to the police.
She lights candles, shuffles out into the damp, icy morning, pushes past the rubbish and shopping trolley blocking the door, and sets off to one of Hounslow's Sikh temples, her only option for a warm meal. Without the goodwill of the Sikhs and Christians who feed and clothe the needy, life would be even more bleak.
The day after her time with me, Elga - who speaks no English but is fluent in Latvian, Lithuanian and Russian - plans to go to Victoria station where she has heard of a Russian language support group.
Most afternoons are spent in Hounslow Library, using Teach Yourself Russian books to try and grasp the English she needs to secure work.
"I want to stay here, I don't want to go back because there are no jobs there, says the 39-year-old. "Things are very bad in Latvia."
Her plan had been to send for her daughter after six months. Now she tells me she has no idea when she will next see her.
Her story is far from rare. She joined thousands who followed the UK promise of limitless construction jobs and a strong pound when the EU embraced the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004.
A young unemployed Ukrainian, who asked not to be named, tells me: "Five years ago life in this country was great, it was so easy to get a job."
But the jobs have long since dried up and Eastern and Central Europeans are now estimated to make up 20 per cent of London's homeless population.
Every night, he says, those once hopeful young men wander Hounslow town centre, some turning to drink or drugs to dull their disappointment.
The numbers of Eastern European migrants has dropped to its lowest point since 2004 in the last year, with statistics suggesting that almost half of the estimated million Eastern European's (mainly Poles) who came to work in the UK since 2004 have gone home.
Those unwilling to return to scolding families and bitter poverty, unable to afford the fare or missing a passport after a street robbery are stuck here in limbo, blocked out of the benefits system unless they work here for a full year, barely able to feed themselves never mind pay rent and often grappling with a language barrier.
At the Feed the Hungry Heart project at the Christian Community Centre in Pears Road, project coordinator Nico Effiong has seen the number of people needing his help creep up.
"We have seen a new influx of Eastern Europeans," he says. "Everybody is asking us for work and we are finding young Asians are in the same position. There are some who are drinkers and into drugs, but many of them are young, happy and bright - but they are needing jobs."
There are only six hostel beds available in Hounslow and a long waiting list. Money is spent on crime prevention and mental health schemes, and a healthy, non-criminal homeless person who approaches Hounslow Council may find sympathy, but no help.
The charity, which has been running for 12 years and helps upwards of 100 homeless people with food, haircuts, clothes and furniture if they find a place, recently paid for one young Eastern European to go home.
A scheme launched by charity Thames Reach last month sees tens of thousands of taxpayer's money being spent on sending mainly Polish migrant workers home and some west London councils - although not Hounslow - have already paid for many return journeys.
"But they still believe this is the promised land," says Nico. "It is easier being here for winter than in their countries. And many have nothing to go back to."
Elga now has a National Insurance number and is waiting for her card, a ticket to legal work and a measure of existence in the British system.
But with UK unemployment levels the highest in a decade, she will be lucky to break free from the lies to her daughter and reliance on the charity of the faithful.
To donate furniture, time or money to Feed the Hungry Heart email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the church landline on 02085695359 or Nico on 07767626247.
Elga is not her real name
Lucy Proctor is raising money for housing and homelessness charity Shelter by running the Bath Half Marathon on March 15. To sponsor her and help Shelter support people like Elga go to www.justgiving.com/lucyhomelessrun
To see our online video of Elga's day check the site on Monday.