After sixteen years in the UK, Aimee* was finally granted refugee status.
It was a Friday and I was at a drop-in for people seeking sanctuary and my lawyer called me. She said to me: ‘Aimee, where are you? Are you standing? Find a place to sit or lean on.’ That is when she told me that I had been granted. I screamed. I was crying. I couldn’t believe it. It was like a joy inside of me. I never expected it would be like that. To hear that news from my lawyer knocked me down. I could not have been happier. At the same time, I still had sisters in the house waiting for their status and I was thinking of them.
With the help of the case workers from Boaz and with the help of my lawyer, I was granted [refugee] status. So imagine if I didn’t have that house and I didn’t have that support from Boaz. That would have never, ever have happened. Boaz has the understanding that we go through a lot and they don’t count you as a number or as somebody who just lives in their accommodation. They treat you as a human being and they work alongside you to get what you’re aiming for.
I thought that once I got my status it would be smooth, but now it is also tough with applying for housing, Universal Credit and being placed in temporary hostel accommodation. It has been hard for me because I have been homeless since the end of May, taken to one hostel and then another with no place to cook or do my laundry. I volunteer with Shelter and I have worked with people who are homeless and so it was humbling to find myself homeless again.
From then until now I am staying in a hostel. I have been phoning a lot of people for advice and support. The money I get I mostly use to buy food because there are no cooking facilities and I need to pay to wash my clothes because there is no washing machine. One day I said to the person on the phone ‘if you put me in a suitable place you will see how my life can change.’
All these years I kept the faith. When I started on my journey for asylum I heard about other people around me who were being granted and I knew that one day it would happen for me, too. I think my life has been wasted. I came here sixteen years ago when I was young and now I am a fully grown woman. They could have granted me much earlier. At my age now what can I do? I do feel like a lot of my best years have been wasted. I could have done a lot. I am proud of myself, but I could have done more.
Living in Boaz accommodation gave me the respect I deserve to have. It gave me back the person within me, which I lost before. In so many different ways I can say ‘I feel like this is my home.’ Even though it’s a room, sharing accommodation, those sisters I shared with became my family. Having a house changed a lot in me as a person. The most important thing is that it gave me back myself. I used to have depression and anxiety, but through that journey, having a house in Boaz, I said: ‘you know what? I can do much better.’ The person inside me needed to come out. I’ve become that great, powerful, inspiring, empowering woman and all because of Boaz. All because of the house they gave me. Honestly, I’m so grateful.
I would like to be a person who is known. I want to be independent. I was an accountant back in my home country but I would like to work in the charity sector now. I would like to work in housing because of what I went through and because having safe housing is so important. I am an expert through my experience and I think I can make changes for other people, just like others supported me.
Re-share from our incredible partners Boaz Trust (click here to discover more of the incredible work they do)