The last 12 months really have been the darkest of times. I joined Asylum Welcome in April last year – just as the pandemic took hold. So many of our clients were facing exceptional difficulties – unprecedented legal, housing and financial worries, unemployment, isolation, domestic violence, and of course Covid-driven health challenges.

I’m truly proud of the work that we’ve been able to do; our community really has come together to reduce adversity and suffering. I want to sincerely thank you for the incredible help and support that you, and hundreds like you, have given Asylum Welcome in the last year.

Asylum Welcome has risen to the challenge at every turn – we stayed open even during the worst times of national lockdown and we ran a skeleton service for clients who had to see us in person, or we supported them remotely. We maintained vital food deliveries, helped with crucial legal claims, and brought comfort and assistance to clients old and new.

When we are able to step in and help clients, we know that it’s truly valued: “Asylum Welcome is like a home to me! It is where I started my journey to rebuild my life in the UK. I decided a long time ago that I needed to help refugees the way that Asylum Welcome helped me.

I have witnessed some of the joy and relief that we have been able to provide, and I want to share one exceptional heart-warming story with you.

Ruth arrived in the UK from Kenya in 2018 and made a claim for asylum. However, she quickly found herself struggling to afford even basic necessities whilst waiting for the results of her claim. She sought help from Asylum Welcome; we were able to help with access to our hardship fund, to cover those basic needs.

We continued supporting Ruth and helped her apply for asylum support. Her claim for asylum was successful, granting her refugee status and ensuring that she could begin an ordinary life away from persecution.

With refugee status secured, we referred Ruth to a local legal firm to apply for family reunion visas. This was successful, and, after three very difficult years apart, Ruth will finally be reunited with her children this month.

Ruth would like to be a nurse. Our education and employment teams have helped her to apply for jobs and college courses, and we have helped her access public funds that are available for training. We were delighted to hear that she is now employed as a care assistant for people with learning disabilities, enabling her to support herself.

This is a real turn-around for Ruth and she looks brighter and happier every time we see her. We are so delighted to see these positive results but we couldn’t achieve such positive outcomes without our supporters’ unswerving backing.

“Asylum Welcome has been very supportive of me and is like a family to me. I am very grateful to everyone at Asylum Welcome.” Ruth

Ruth’s circumstances have improved so much but we know that there are hundreds of people who are only on the first rung of the ladder in terms of seeing their lives improve. We need your help to see more success stories like Ruth’s in the year ahead.

It can take years for many of our clients to sort out their legal status, secure housing, take on education or paid work, and begin to see real progress. There are some terrible examples of hardship and adversity where our work is so desperately needed. Yvonne’s case illustrates this:

Yvonne was born in Jamaica and came to the UK as a young girl as part of the Windrush generation. She is now 62 years old. We have been supporting Yvonne for the last 18 months but sadly she is still in great need, after years of hardship.

Windrush policies resulted in all of Yvonne’s benefits being taken away, including her right to work and her legal status in the UK. She was at serious risk of being deported.

We lost touch with her for a few months last year, despite making increasingly desperate efforts to maintain contact by phone, text and letter, and trying to get food delivered to her.

We discovered that Yvonne had been in hospital and our support was reinstated immediately. We were also able to arrange for a district nurse to visit as she needed follow-up care once she was back home.

Despite having a legal representative and being vulnerable, Yvonne is still awaiting the outcome of her asylum claim. She lives alone, in arrears, in her rented flat – and her current accommodation is unsuitable given her age and her fragile health.

Yvonne has no legal status, no benefits, she cannot work and she is ill. Hers is a heartbreaking story, one of unfairness and a lack of basic human rights. As with all our clients, Asylum Welcome is determined to help her as much as we can. 

When I go into the office and see other clients who are still just at the start of their journey, I know that I must ask you to help us do more.

We cannot be complacent. Many people still need support to find permanent accommodation. They have been street homeless during the last year and whilst they’ve been provided with temporary accommodation, we’re looking for longer-term solutions (we’re working with local partner organisations such as Sanctuary Hosting). And we still need to provide weekly hardship payments of £30-£40 for approximately 50 people every single week.

With your support today we will help many more people like Ruth and Yvonne.

Right now, as lockdown eases and vaccinations continue at speed, most of our clients remain particularly vulnerable and they will often need longer-term help. So please, can you help keep our services going to the fullest possible extent? Please make a donation today, of £20, or £40, or whatever you can afford.

Our ability to support clients who are so vulnerable at present is only possible because of the continued concern, solidarity and support of people like you. I am hugely grateful for your support and I hope that stories like Ruth’s inspire you – as they do me, my colleagues and our wonderful volunteers. Thank you.

If you have not already, would you consider making your donation a standing order? This really helps us plan for the future.

With kind regards and deep gratitude,

PS: We at Asylum Welcome are deeply concerned by the plans to reform the asylum system announced on 24th March. The plan, as laid out by Home Secretary Priti Patel here and which you can read in full here clearly divides refugees into welcome and unwelcome according to how they arrive in the UK, rather than based on the legitimacy of their claim for asylum. These proposals would make it even harder for people like Ruth and Yvonne to claim asylum and to live in safety and with dignity. To find out more about the New Immigration Plan and to keep updated about what you can do, please visit our Borders Bill 2021 page on our website.

You can also read here a powerful and personal reflection on what the New Plan for Immigration will mean for those seeking sanctuary in U.K. by our Services Director, Almas Farsi, also known as Navid, who fled persecution in Iran: “How can people who are being persecuted and in danger possibly benefit from this firm but not fair policy?”

Thank you.