By Jummah (Young Refugee Services, Portsmouth)
In recent years, many organisations around the UK such as the VOICES Network have become increasingly concerned about asylum seekers. They are particularly worried about issues such as the lack of education, high rates of refusals and not being able to work. As a young refugee that has been through many of these problems, I want to look at the issues in more detail and propose some solutions.
One major problem connected to the situation for asylum seekers is access to education. These days, most asylum seekers don’t have the chance to go to school, college or university. Many used to study in their own countries and they hope to complete their studies here in the UK. When it’s not possible for them, they get very disappointed and it has a very negative impact. The government should make education opportunities easier to access for asylum seekers.
Another issue is that many people have to wait a long time for their asylum decision after going to their big interview and some people even get refused. One of the main reasons for this are difficulties in communication between the Home Office and asylum seekers during the interview. Many asylum seekers have seen very bad things and they find it very hard to talk about them openly, or they try to, but they can’t make themselves understood by the interpreter. The answer could be for the Home Office to understand this and make the interview a bit easier for them and reply to them more quickly. I think this is especially important for the unaccompanied asylum seekers who are very young. If the Home Office made the decision more quickly, it would be easier for them to study and integrate with English people. It would make every day better for them and they could do many good things for themselves and for this great country.
A final problem is that asylum seekers don’t have the right to work. There are many asylum seekers who are not allowed to work for a long long time while they are waiting for their decision. This is a big problem because most asylum seekers have seen very bad things in their own countries, and the other countries they have been in, and when they come to the UK they have so much time to think about these memories. What I’ve discovered from my own experience is that when you have a lot of problems, the best way to feel better is to inspire yourself with something useful, like work. When you work, you don’t have the time to think about everything that hurts. The other reason why the government should give asylum seekers the right to work is that many people have left behind families in their country, who are now struggling alone in countries of war. Lots of asylum seekers are trying to support their families in their own countries, because if they don’t, nobody else will feed them.
Jummah and fellow VOICES Ambassadors with Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green.
To sum up, there is no doubt that all of these problems are connected to the asylum process which is getting more and more difficult every day. Unless action is taken, these problems will continue to have a negative impact on asylum seekers and they will be unable to communicate or integrate with the community. We want to make friends here, but we need to speak the same language and we can’t always do that without good access to education and work.
Imagine facing a big problem in your own country and having to run away from everything you know. You finally arrive in a place where you feel safe, but you know nobody and you face new problems. This makes us feel frustrated. Many asylum seekers have psychological problems. I believe that most asylum seekers like this great country and they want to integrate with the people here, but they don’t know how to overcome the barriers that I have mentioned. I have written these things because I feel they are very important and they need to be sorted out.