On the second day of refugee week, Jonathan* speaks about his experience of living, and bringing up a baby, while being shunted around poor quality hotel accommodation. While he has positive things to say about the UK, the picture he paints is a bleak one. As somebody who has met and lived with many people in a similar situation, he set out changes that need to be made to the wider asylum and immigration system.
People are suffering in the hotels. My baby is really suffering, with lots of issues. She has health problems. We had to go through lots, running from hospital to hospital to hospital. I am not able to cope with seeing my kid and my wife suffering. My baby is really skinny as well, she was healthy before. It’s because of everything – the food, the environment, everything. You can’t particularly point out one issue.
I feel suffocated. Because I am from Asia… I don’t eat this type of food that they are providing us. We don’t have any option, they just give us some things and we have to eat it. I have got health issues so I can’t eat a lot of food and whenever I eat this kind of food I get into trouble. We don’t have any option though, it’s eat or go hungry.
Me and some of the caseworkers pushed to get out of the hotel and we had to go through lots of processes, it’s not easy. I know that it’s not just about me and about the thousands of people who are just waiting and suffering but… the real thing from my eyes is the small kids who are just going through their childhood stuck in hotels. Ask anyone, if you speak to any person living in London who is in the hotels they will all say the same thing.
They have to speed up the process. We are family people, and we have been dragged through and we just have to run from one place to another. Sometimes people are waiting for 2-3 years. If the process was a little bit quicker, that would be much better. I am just hoping that my case will have a green signal.
The UK is a good place, I never had any complaint about this country, it is a beautiful place and a beautiful country and with all the people here I have never faced any really bad issues. I don’t have any complaint about that. Everyone is helpful to each other, that is a blessing. The issue is the accommodation.
Asylum seekers should be allowed to work. I recently read in the newspaper that after 6 months asylum seekers may be allowed to work but then after that I didn’t see that news again. When I talk to people who are in the hotels, they say, if they allow us to work, we are going to pay taxes, so the government is going to earn more money. But if they just leave us here, what is going to happen? Nothing. Mentally we have lots of issues and everything so we are thinking about all those things and we are just wasting our time. So for people like us, if we could work, we can pay the tax to the government, we would be more than happy.
If the people who are here are allowed to work by the government they can cut down the employer shortages. We read that employers have shortages, the lorry drivers are not there, the fruit pickers are not there, people saying we don’t have the labour. So all these problems the government has will vanish, and they don’t need to hire from another country when they have people already here who are waiting. So if they give a green signal to us to work, they don’t have to go anywhere in the world, they have got good workers here, in the hotels.
The people coming in a lorry or boat, they don’t have anywhere to go. If they are going to stay where they are, they will be killed. So they have got a reason, and they should be allowed to come. And if they have lived in this country more than 10 years, there should be a law to let them stay, because they have made their life here, and if they are thrown out of the country they will have nowhere. So the Home Secretary has to come up with a plan, that if you have spent this many years in the UK, then you can stay. There should be a proper plan, they can’t just have one day this law one day another.
I am really thankful to RAMFEL, because they supported me throughout my hard times, and there was lots of things going on in my life and they stood for me.