Sanctuary in the Senedd – Why it is important

As Voices Network, we paid great attention to this event happening at the heart of the Welsh Government, the Senedd in Cardiff bay. The subject of the event is wellbeing and health of people who made Wales their Sanctuary Home. This is why the event is so important as it touches upon mostly forgotten aspect of the asylum process in the UK – the impact on the individual’s mental and physical health conditions. We are delivering our testimonies to shed light on this very important issue by talking about the challenges in integrating into a new life in Wales, accessing education and employment and how these challenges affect our health.

Larysa, our ambassador living in Newport, talks about emotions and feelings of an asylum seeker by explaining how trauma, uncertainty, living in limbo, fear and (forced) poverty affects the way we think and see our life. She suggests that providing extra funds and facilitating access to education is the panacea, because it gives hope, happiness and a reason to get up and put on clothes to do something good during the day. But she says that it takes time for the bad feelings to go away -in any challenge all uncertainty and mental health problems can quickly show up.

George, living in Cardiff, echoes the difficulties of not being able to continue his education and its impact on his life. Sometimes he finds himself sitting on a bench for several hours without doing nothing. He wants the government to provide more funds to access his courses and obtain a certificate in construction management. Letting him access to his desired class will make him happy and healthy as a father and a husband, who finds raising his family in Wales “joyous and full of laughter”.

Yasmin talks about her experiences in getting used to the life in Wales. She highlights that social connections is the way to tackle any health and mental problems, and sometimes finds it difficult to find close friends to talk to and to improve her English. As an experienced radiographer, she would like to find a job in a hospital and bring joy and happiness to people’s life in Wales. She is working so hard to get a high score on English exam to get a certificate for this job, but being apart from her family make her so sad and affects all her motivation to study. Strict family reunification rules do not allow her to bring her sick parents to the UK, but she hopes one day her parents will come and she and her sisters will have a big family together like they had before.

Mauda, living in Swansea, has suffered a lot from the uncertainty of her life during her asylum journey. However, she has never lost her hope – and sings her song named “A journey of a person seeking asylum”.

Godwin, living in Wrexham, is a poet and he expresses his ideas about wellbeing and health via his poem entitled “The Unseen Tears of Refuge Seekers”.

Our Voices Network will come together for this event, and once again become “the voice of the voiceless refugees”. We will continue to raise our voice, because our stories matter.

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