Santuary found…

Recently there has been a big change in the clients we have seen and the type of support they need. Coronavirus has played a huge part in the increase in clients we have seen since lockdown began. It has meant that people surviving on the goodwill of others now no longer feel able to do that.

Being Appeal Rights Exhausted (ARE) sounds like the next step is removal from the country but it can be far from the truth.

It may mean that your solicitor – often one assigned to you – is not doing a good job. It could be that the stresses and traumas of your journey and what you left behind have wiped details required by Home Office interviewers from your mind. It could be that you travelled as a child and do not know why your parents specifically made you leave, only that your life was in danger.

A fresh claim will reignite the process of asylum and may include details missed the first time round. We help clients to find experts who provide reports regarding torture suffered, country reports and mental health reports. These can all make an immeasurable difference in the court.

A fresh claim also offers a chance to get back into the National Asylum Support System (NASS) but the application is lengthy and complex for many people as proof of where and who you stay with is not always possible to evidence. With No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) the client has no right to work or claim benefits and often gets help from people almost as vulnerable as them.

Arlene painful journey to finding sanctuary

One such client, Arlene, who has been here for 5 years, a woman who is still young, and quite disabled from injuries sustained in her home country has finally come to a place in her journey where she is able to begin to relax. When we met her she was ARE, destitute and stayed with old friends from university. We have provided money and taken her shopping, as she is unable to walk far, for around two years while she kept on fighting for a chance to find sanctuary.

A report from the Helen Bamber foundation finally provided evidence of the human cruelty she had been subjected to in her home country for over 20 years. And at her last tribunal, after 3 and a half years of waiting she was granted refugee status. Not only that – the judge expressed disappointment that she had been made to attend so many court appearances, been detained twice, wrongfully, and been denied a series of much needed operations as she did not qualify for them as an asylum seeker. PTSD, pain and prolonged suffering have taken their toll but when she was finally awarded refugee status these cares faded.

We always try to prepare clients for the next hurdles. Getting status is only one part of what it means to find sanctuary. Just before gaining status Arlene was taken to hospital with a series of life threatening conditions. She spent 5 months in hospital and then a further five in a care home recovering. On the day the hospital called to tell us she might not make it she was being asked for evidence of proof of her refugee status and while we interceded in that matter she has now been given bills for thousands of pounds for her stay in a care home. We continue to advocate for her while she recovers and have claimed the benefits she needs while she is unable to work, her wonderful befrienders have brought her homecooked food throughout the last year, called her, sent her books, visited when able and tried to keep her spirits up.

Arlene has now been able to find a small flat where she will still need daily care for some time. Shielding is important as she has been so ill. Your donations have furnished the flat, your gifts of plants and crockery have made it a home. She is more hopeful than ever before. We are lucky to have been able to journey with her to the beginning of a new part of her life where joy is returning.

For those who would like to contribute to people with NRPF who are ARE we are always grateful for donations which help people to buy essential food and personal care items. You can make a donation through our website here.