In my job, I faced many problems from political parties regarding my opinion and for working with refugees, especially Palestinians. I tried to struggle and put a safety plan in place for me and my children, but it was impossible to ensure our safety in these conditions.
I initially came to the UK to visit my sister but due to continuing safety concerns in my country, I was advised to claim asylum. Due to the rapidly changing and developing threat to my safety, I left my husband and my children in Lebanon without pre-warning them that I would not return from the UK. Their situation remains precarious as they live in an area controlled by hostile political parties.
Before coming to the UK, I heard about the history of the UK welcoming refugees. However, living as an asylum seeker here is very difficult. It takes a long time for your case to be decided and during that time, you live in a hotel with little chance to do anything to occupy your time. As an asylum seeker, I am provided just £8 a week support from the Government. I am grateful for this, and try to manage it as carefully as I can to meet my basic needs, but it is now impossible. The price of everything has increased recently and I cannot afford to buy food. It is why I often go hungry.
What I really want is to work and contribute to UK society. The ban on asylum seekers working has had an immensely negative impact on my mental health. I now suffer from severe depression and anxiety. In addition to this, living in a hotel room without my family and no community support makes me feel very alone and isolated. Most of my days I have nothing to do but think, which is often negative thinking.
For someone like me, who was an active member of society and had a job and a professional life, it is unbearable to be forced into unemployment and isolation. I feel I am losing touch with everything. I feel distressed, useless and cut off from society. It feels like I am in a massive cage. It is pure mental torture.
After I claimed asylum, I tried to contact several organizations asking for different types of assistance but most of them were at full capacity and they did not always have enough funds to support asylum seekers. I was always referred from one organisation to another until I received assistance from one service. I am now taking counselling sessions to improve my mental health.
I miss my husband. I miss spending time with my children. I have missed precious moments. I left a big part of me behind in Lebanon. I am no longer whole, as a person, as a human being. I dream of being reunited with them one day, but I know we are not safe in Lebanon.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I have forgotten that I am in England. I have adapted well to life in the UK, or as well as I can considering my circumstances. When I arrived, I did not know anyone and I was sad and lonely, but at least my life was safe. I have always tried to give something back to the community by volunteering and I will continue to do so here.
What I really hope though is that I will one day soon be allowed to work again. I know that it takes time for asylum claims to be considered, but at the moment my skills as a social worker are being wasted. I know that if permitted I can and will make a valuable contribution to society.