Consider us as people too!

For an asylum-seeker mum, face masks are a luxury they can’t afford

By Anonymous

How are we going to afford buying a face mask or hand-sanitizers to protect ourselves against this virus?

I am a mother of two children. You can’t imagine how we have been coping on £5.37 per day. It’s been a struggle and hellish experience. I’m sure my experiences are similar for all Asylum Seekers. Most times, we have to choose between buying good food or getting our children to school and buying essential clothes just to cover their bodies.

Covid 19 has shown that all Asylum Seekers have been living below the poverty level. This became worsened by Covid. I cannot even start narrating my own experiences and the number of times we had to deprive ourselves of essential things.

I started writing my story long before now but I just couldn’t get myself to complete it. It was too emotional because of our experiences two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, we ran out of Hand-wash, Body-wash, Toilet-roll and Tooth-paste. I couldn’t even afford to buy them because I didn’t have any money on me. I had to send a text message to a lady that had promised to bring some food parcel for us that week explaining our predicament. Eventually, when the food parcel arrived, it was two toilet rolls that were in the food parcel. I understood because it’s possible they were under pressure themselves and needed to attend to many people too so it’s possible they needed to ensure everyone gets. Luckily a BAME organisation brought some Toilet-roll and Tooth-paste for us that would probably last for 2 weeks

As I write this, I haven’t been able to buy the hand-wash and body-wash  These and many more are the predicaments Asylum Seekers face when we cannot even afford to buy the basic things needed for personal hygiene. How then are we going to afford buying a face mask or a hand-sanitizer to protect ourselves against this virus? Take into consideration that most Asylum Seekers are from BAME backgrounds that are badly hit by the monster called Corona Virus. Face masks and hand-sanitizers are luxuries that we cannot afford, thereby exposing ourselves to further danger worse than hunger. After the lockdown, I fear for our lives because we may not be able to protect ourselves the way the government recommended we do.

This week, the government increased the daily support by 26 pence. It is not enough for us to survive on. We are just asking the government to consider us as people too who have been adversely affected by this pandemic. All we are asking for is just some more money that is reasonable to survive on. No sane person would flee his/her country to another country when they are not even sure they will arrive there alive, if the country they are originally from is not a death trap. If the Universal Credit could be increased, then why not Asylum Seekers’ Weekly Support that has been low right from the world go..

We are asking the government to reconsider increasing the support of weekly support Asylum seekers get so that they can weather the storms everyone is in now if not, most Asylum seekers might be swept away by the storm.’’


Postscript from the person who listened to and wrote this mother’s story

The weekly support Asylum Seekers receive was inadequate before, but now it is a disaster. After many protests during lockdown, the allowance was increased by in June by just £1.85 a week – 26p a day. After many more protests, it was increased again in October: by an incredible 3p a week – less than half of 1p a day. This is just mocking us. Universal Credit was increased by around £20 a week in April. The challenges Asylum Seekers have been facing are enormous and cannot be over emphasised. This boomeranged as a result of Covid and it shows one thing: Asylum Seekers are standing on a keg of gunpowder about to explode, on the cliff of a mountain edge which is very dangerous. I once heard a wise man say: “A disgruntled person is a disaster waiting to happen”.

Hearing all this from a mother of two children explains one thing: the time for the government to act is now. This mother is having mental health issues because she’s already so stressed and worked up and her mental state is unstable. The UK Asylum system in itself puts shackles on the feet of Asylum Seekers, makes their future look bleak, thereby leading to a lot of distressing situations. If the basic necessities of life are not guaranteed, then life itself is not  guaranteed. My take: A total overhaul of the Asylum system is needed.


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