I have written before about my friend, without whom this project idea would not exist: we met in December 2012 when I volunteered in a centre for people newly arrived in the UK who are asking the UK to provide them with a home, a safe place to live, when their country of origin cannot. I am of course talking about asylum seekers, but the truth is that I don’t even like writing the words for all their negative associations in the media.
So yes, my friend is an asylum seeker, She is also an aspiring, strong, creative, clever, loving, kind, honest, funny and inspiring woman and mother.
One and a half years on, she is still seeking asylum in the UK. Her case, and appeal, have been rejected on the grounds that there is insufficient evidence to prove that she is telling the truth. Insufficient evidence. Isn’t that a great fudge by the Home Office to stick to their popularity raising targets of immigration levels, but without having a compelling reason to prove she is lying? How about they provide us with sufficient evidence to prove she is NOT telling the truth?
It would not be fair to divulge too much of her story online, but suffice it to say that she and her young son escaped a dangerous and terrifying experience at the hands of a violent criminal. If I could find him on Facebook and ask him to just confirm for me what he did to my friend then maybe the Home Office would be compelled to grant her asylum. But unfortunately the world just doesn’t work that way, so we are stuck, trying to gather as much evidence as possible to convince the Home Office that she is honest, her story is true and they are worthy of being given refugee status.
There are many ironies in this story, one of the greatest being that if the Home Office had granted her asylum by now, it would not be costing the tax payers (me!) so much money in supporting her. – I wonder if the Daily Mail would run that story? – She would be able to work and give back in humble gratitude to the country which gave her and her son a fresh start in life. But instead they are overshadowed, every moment, with the uncertainty of tomorrow, of the restrictions placed upon them as ‘asylum seekers’, of the stress of living this existence, and having to relive the trauma over and over again which led her to flee in the first place.
But this limbo is nearing its end. Her name seems to have arrived at the top of a list in the Home Office for resolving her case, so they are, on the grounds that there is ‘insufficient evidence’ to prove she is telling the truth, making moves to return her to the country of which she is a citizen, but was unable to protect her first time around. If the Home Office are right, then they can dine out on the fact that they have returned another lying chancer in their attempts to abuse the system. And if they are wrong? My friend and her son will be found by the criminal who abused her in the first place. His threats will be carried out, and the Home Office of the country of which I am a proud and active citizen, will have the blood of two innocent people on their hands.