SPEECH FROM AN ASYLUM SEEKER TO SANCTUARY IN PARLIAMENT
“Hello everyone, I am originally from Albania and I am an asylum seeker. I am 28 years old and I have a degree in MP Political science and a second degree in Russian language. I speak three languages, Albanian, Russian and Spanish.
I never believed my future would end up like this, but we cannot always control life and we don’t know where we might end up.
Growing up was not easy for me. I have horrible memories from my childhood, memories of abuse and discrimination because of my disability.
I was locked away when we had visitors at home as if I was a monster and would spend days without food or clothes. People called me a “mistake from Allah” and would bully me to do things I did not want.
My disability was also one of the reasons I fell victim of trafficking.
Thank you for the opportunity to stand here and talk to you about our experiences.
I would like to ask you to imagine how difficult it can be to live with only 36 pound a week. Because of my disability, £36 per week is not enough as I have more expenses, for example taxi costs to go to some of my hospital appointments. I have not been able to get travel costs reimbursed by the hospital for appointments after an operation I had, and because I was on crutches I could not use the bus but had to have a taxi. It will be the same for others with disabilities, making it hard to use buses.
I need physiotherapy and it is cheaper for me to go to a local gym than go by taxi to the hospital for it, but I have to pay £20 a month for that.
I live in a flat where I have no choice where I live and it is on the second floor, with lots of stairs, which is not only difficult because of my disability, but after my operation I was trapped there for six weeks, not able to use the stairs at all.
Being a woman asylum seeker means that I also have additional personal needs which again cost more. You will know about how this affects all women of my age, but because we have less money, it means that we are affected worse.
Some weekends we might end up without any money, which means we can’t eat.
I am not the only one who is in this situation and I know for others it is even harder. I know other people who are refused by the Home Office and don’t have place where to sleep or food to eat, clothes to wear or items for our personal needs as women.
It is thanks to charity organisations which care about them and try to offer them food, money and safety- a big thank you to all these groups and organisations.
But what happens to those people who are refused? Some of them have disabilities, some have children, or perhaps they are young women like me, who cannot return back to them country as their life will be in danger and unfortunately the only opportunity is to stay homeless in the UK in order to survive.
I am waiting for nearly 3 years for one answer from the Home Office and I really fell horrible. I feel disappointed for not being able to work or to be useful and productive, despite having qualifications and work experience in the past.
As a qualified interpreter I could be so very useful and able to earn money that would give me self-respect as well as more income to meet my costs of living. It would save the government money too. When get the right to remain in the UK I would be able to work straight away, and so not be destitute and homeless as many are when they only have 28 days to find somewhere to live, and money to live on.
This situation is putting me more in depression because I feel like I’ve lost it all, no belongings, no friends, no rights, and no personal space- having to share a room with other people who are from a different country and different culture, which can create problems in living together. I suffered abuse from a roommate from another culture and country because of my disability, it was so serious that the police had to be called and take action.
The housing providers were going to give me somewhere else to live because of sharing with the woman who attacked me – not move her – but the place they were moving me to was too far for me to walk, because of my disability, for the counselling that I need, but they were not wanting to take any notice
I am standing here and talking to you in the name of all asylum seekers who have been refused, who have disability, who are homeless and who are waiting and hoping that their lives will be better in this country. I ask you to give us a chance to live a normal life. We are not criminals, we are not here for benefits, yes we have disabilities and may need support, but this doesn’t mean we will stay in benefits forever.
We have ambitions and qualifications, we have dreams and hopes for the future and we want to contribute to this society that has become our new home.
All we ask is to give us a chance to treat us human being and not as an obstacle. Give us a chance to show what we are able to do, without benefits but with the right to work.
Thank you for your time and for listening to what I had to say.”