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How we support people seeking asylum: Abdul's story

Abdul* is extremely intelligent - he speaks four languages and works as a computer engineer. He is just 24 when he is forced to flee his home, as the government issues a warrant for his execution. He was identified protecting members of the gay community from the same fate. During his escape, he sees unimaginable acts of violence, which leads to him suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Abdul is on the run for two years, alone and barely surviving, until he reaches the UK.

As a refugee, Abdul doesn’t speak any English and he doesn’t know where to get help, so he ends up sleeping rough on the streets. The reality of what he has experienced begins to sink in and he turns to alcohol as his only way of coping. He becomes very underweight and unwell. He is a target for racist attacks and sustains life-threatening injuries. He gets very depressed and attempts to end his life.

Abdul eventually gets referred for temporary housing. He finds himself a job and starts taking English classes. He gets on the housing register and starts to feel hopeful. However, Abdul does not understand that his tenancy agreement states he must attend key-work sessions every week. Because his job clashes with his key-work sessions, he gets evicted and he loses his job. The council write to Abdul to say they will no longer house him because he got himself evicted. Abdul doesn’t understand this letter and there is no one to help him appeal the decision. Abdul is made homeless again.

Abdul’s GP refers him to Justlife, who help him understand his options. They campaign for the council to help him find suitable housing, which Abdul decides is in the private sector. Because of Abdul’s history of homelessness, Justlife advocate for him to receive the full rate of housing benefits, so he can get his own flat instead of a room in a shared house.

Justlife help Abdul arrange viewings and secure a flat. They apply for a grant so Abdul can get furniture. They help Abdul understand his bills. Justlife also provide Abdul with an electronic tablet and set it up in his native language, so he can reconnect with family members. Abdul says no one has ever helped him like this.

It has taken five years for Abdul to reach this point, but he now has a stable home where he can have a fresh start. He finds a full-time job and starts paying his own rent. He continues to work on his English and he is able to show his friendly and funny personality. Abdul continues to help the homeless people whom he met along his journey.

*Abdul is not a real person, but this story was written by a Justlife Support Worker to represent the most common experience of the people they work with who are seeking asylum.