Posted: 16 June 2020

Refugee Week: stuck inside and waiting to be free

This Refugee Week, we caught up with one of our refugee and migrant practitioners who shares with us her experiences during Covid-19.

It's a difficult time for many people but imagine not being able to speak the language, living in asylum seeking accomodation and not knowing how to access any support.

The cost of language

All of my families and the young people are scared, and frightened to leave the house, to the point where they don’t even want to go to the shops. Some are self-isolating unnecessarily. I feel that families are not getting the support and information they need and for most of them the language barrier is an issue.

It’s very difficult at the moment for the asylum seekers and refugees.

They're living on £35 a week, so for our families with children it’s very difficult. They don’t have bank accounts and they can’t have anything delivered, so getting out and getting food has been really quite difficult for them. It’s things like Calpol. In the corner shops, Calpol was costing about £20 a bottle. If you only have £35 a week, that’s a lot of money. I’m concerned that the children won’t have enough to eat.

Waiting for papers

One of them said to me yesterday that she’s determined to get her papers before she dies, which is a bit of black humour and that’s her way of handling it. While they’re waiting for their papers it’s the boredom and monotony that causes a lot of problems because they’re not allowed to work. So, the fact that they’re not able to go to college and meet up with their friends, I’m very concerned for some people’s mental health because of the isolation.

I’m also worried that we do have ladies who are victims of domestic violence and that’s ongoing, but because of their culture they won’t report it. 

No bank account, no school 

The majority of resources that schools are putting out are online, but our families and young people don’t have internet access because they can’t have a bank account. The only data they have is on their phones and that’s expensive. I worry that our families and children are missing out because they can’t access all of these resources. As a society I think a lot of us live in a bubble and don’t realise exactly what it’s like to live in this county as an asylum seeker with no rights.

Food and well-being packs 

For my groups, we’re contacting everyone every week, at least once a week, just to check in with them and make sure they’re well and don’t need anything. One mother I know was really struggling so I had a food parcel delivered to her because she didn’t have any food. I’ve also delivered activity packs out to most of my families.

We will all come out of this and things will start again.

I think things will be very changed when we come out of this, but we will come out of it and we will carry on. I want them to know they’re not on their own and there are people here to help.


By Practitioner

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