From Asylum Seeker to Homelessness to Freedom

“I was a child, 14 or 15 years old. They saw a tattoo and one of them said that tattoos are against the law. They arrested me and said they had to remove it for me. So, they brought some battery acid and they put it on my arm. I had to leave”.

Nariman is a Kurdish asylum seeker who came to the UK from Iraq 20 years ago after experiencing violence in his home country. When he first arrived in the UK, asylum seekers were allowed to work, so he was working and paying rent whilst trying to process his asylum claim.

“My first job was with an agency, packing some equipment inside trucks for deliveries. I was working until my asylum claim was turned down in 2003. I appealed that decision, but they refused it three times”.

After having his asylum claims rejected, the national rules changed which meant that asylum seekers were no longer entitled to work permits. This meant Nariman could no longer secure an income to rent a place, and he had to spend over 10 years sleeping rough.

“All of my savings had run out, because I spent my money on a solicitor three times. And when my final appeal was rejected, I thought this is the last one, there’s no hope for me. All the hope finished; my money had finished. I had to come to the streets. And when I came to the streets, I got in touch with The Connection”.

In the very heart of London, The Connection at St Martin’s is a specialist service that enables people sleeping rough to find the support they want and a safe place to live. Nariman was supported by The Connection, particularly with the Migration team, who were eventually able to secure him the right to live and work in the UK.

“They put me in the right direction to help me to get a solicitor. And, from there, everything went so quickly. It was probably 6 or 7 months. And then it was all done, I got my visa, and I was allowed to work. The hope, the life change… at that moment, I was so happy”.

He also worked with the Recovery and Opportunities team, who helped him to increase his confidence and apply for jobs. He ended up finding his own employment through the Job Centre. Nariman really likes his job and is now living in his own flat, which he found with the help of his key worker Su.

“By now, I have almost forgotten everything. It’s just like I had a bad dream. There is so much I am excited about now. I’m getting back on my feet with the help of Su and The Connection, they’ve been really great for me.”

Nariman is now settled in his new flat, with the safety and stability that this and his job are bringing him. He is keen to give back what he can, and to continue enjoying his home.

Unfortunately, being a asylum seeker will lead to homelessness for many in the UK. The Connection can support them but they need your help.