Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Himmah – Arimathea – Pt2 – Feedback Further Work

Pt1–What they do,     Pt2–Feedback and Further Work,     Pt3-Actions

Feedback from the asylum seekers who had been supported by CAN and NAT was very positive, as can be seen below:

Male Feedback Comments
“We can organise ourselves now we have money, instead of spending all day walking to projects and restaurants seeking free food”.

“We have choice now in that we can buy food or maybe something else we need, such as socks or underwear. These items need replacing often, especially if you have few items and the discomfort when they are worn is difficult”.

“Without money we have no choice and no dignity. We are still deprived much dignity but this is much better than the old ways of support” [food parcel and £10 cash a month from Nottingham Refugee Forum].

“What I came to this country for is protection not for money or anything, but we are treated like animals for years to try to force us to leave”.

Female Feedback Comments
“Before I used my £10 to top up my mobile to ensure I could contact people when I needed help, now I can top up when I need to and I feel safer knowing I have credit and people I can call when I need to with any problems”.

“Before I didn’t like to go out in the evenings in case I had to walk home late at night. Now I can get a tram or a taxi and it means I am going out much more, I’ve even started college again in the evenings”. (Disabled young woman)

“We can now buy clothes, rather than just taking what people are giving you. It makes me feel much better having the choice and being able to go into shops knowing I can choose things”.

“We can spend money on toiletries and sanitary products for women. These are essential needs but no one provided for them before. We had to buy the very cheap products because of very limited income and they were uncomfortable, but now we can buy what we need and the better products which are much nicer for us to use”.

Community Aid Nottingham raised £4271 (mostly as Zakat, but some as Sadaqah), which was spent on providing a subsistence allowance for 9 residents (many of whom benefited in the first quarters support), of the 9 residents, 6 were Muslim and 3 were other faiths. 5 were disabled and 5 had complex mental health difficulties. 6 residents were male and 3 were female. They came from Iran(x 2), Syria(x2) , Zimbabwe(x2) , Algeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq , Kenya and Rwanda

Over the six months of funding the ages of the residents ranged from 17 (age dispute client, where client says he is 17 but Home Office have assessed as 18) to 46, with the majority being in their twenties, which reflects the trend in terms of asylum seekers in the UK.

The work of CAN has now been taken over by Himmah Nottingham under the “Community Fund” Project. With the original funding having been used up (indeed, the Community Fund is now in debt to NAT !), Himmah are looking to raise funds to keep this project going so the destitute asylum seekers can continue to be given a little dignity and help whilst they are enduring some very difficult circumstances.

Interestingly, and unusually, Sajid was keen to point out that Himmah are more interested in getting peoples time than their money. What they would like most of all, is volunteers to sign up to a place on a nine week rota, so that they just had to come in on a Saturday morning one week in nine to help in preparing occasional meals and in food distribution at the Refugee Forum or to simply spend a little time talking to the asylum seekers. To volunteer your time, donate money or simply to find out more about the project, you can call on 07980 407282 or visit the website at www.himmah.org

BFTF asked Sajid about lobbying and whether it had any effect. His response was to point out that the lobbying by a number of local groups involved with asylum seekers had led to a commitment by the UK Borders Agency to look for a local venue for asylum seekers in Nottingham to report to, instead of having to travel to the Loughborough Reporting Centre every 2 weeks, a journey that is almost impossible if you have no income. Additionally, Citizens for Sanctuary are now running a mini-bus to Loughborough to make the journey easier for destitute asylum seekers who have health problems.

Given Wesals background in refugee activities both in the UK and in her home country of Egypt, BFTF asked what the differences were in the treatment of asylum seekers in the two nations. Wesal responded by saying that the biggest difference she had found was the very hostile press and media coverage that asylum seekers are given in the UK compared to Egypt.

Lastly, BFTF tries to avoid interviews ending on a note of gloom and doom by always asking guests what they think the best thing about living in the UK is. Wesal’s answer to this question was that she really valued the diversity of the population in the UK and thought that it was great that you could be on a bus and hear a dozen different languages being spoken. More practically, the diversity of cuisine has resulted in Wesal getting a taste for curry, something that was rare back in Egypt !

Pt1–What they do,     Pt2–Feedback and Further Work,     Pt3-Actions

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