Encountering Hate Crime Under Lockdown: a Refugee’s Story

After receiving their leave to remain and becoming refugees this family was moved to a new house in a new area. It was at the beginning of lockdown and they didn’t know anyone there. They had never encountered problems before so they were shocked when the harassment started. It took some time to talk about it as they just hoped it would go away but instead it got worse.

The person who told us the story below thought it may be because she wore a scarf and no one else around there did. But it was also because of lockdown because they couldn’t get to know their neighbours. She explained what had happened and how she managed to change things. Her daughter drew a picture to show how cross all the rubbish thrown in the garden made her!

The text below was submitted by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous.

Yesterday the police came and talked to us. They are going to put a camera by the front door. It was Covid when we came here and we don’t know anyone because everyone was stuck inside. The neighbours came out and talked to each other on the street but we didn’t go out because we were scared. We tried to stay inside.

It started with rubbish in the garden. Cans and bottles and bags. We hoped it was children and it would stop. But it got worse. They started to throw old food and put left over takeaway food through our letterbox. We would find it inside. Then they
began to knock the door and run away. I would be putting the baby down to sleep, there would be a knock on the door and I would run downstairs and find no one there. No one of our friends comes without phoning us first but with Covid we stopped
visiting each other so it was frightening. Last week 3/4 times I ran to see. No one. I ran out very quickly trying to find out who was there but our house is in a corner and the people can run away and hide very easily.
There is a lot of drinking and if you open the door to the garden the smell of drugs comes inside and makes you feel sick. This is normally 8 or 9 in the evening. The kids don’t like it. They say ‘Close the door! close the door!’

Then they throw eggs at the window. Normally I would go out straight away and remove this and the rubbish, and clean everything but the weather was very bad when the police came so it wasn’t all cleaned up and I could show them a little left sticking on the window. And there is fighting too on the street. A few weeks ago two neighbours were fighting with each other and five police cars came. My son said ‘lock the door! don’t go out!’ Some of the people here can fight each other but we can’t fight – if they are born here maybe they can argue and shout but we can’t.

When we were in Gendros in Manselton we didn’t have any problems. We came to see the house and it was very nice but we did not know about the area. We moved here and people were fighting two and three times in the first weeks and the police were coming! We realise ‘Oh no we are in a wrong place now!’ Friends tell us that we should have found out about the area first but we did not have the idea that we should check the area first. We didn’t have problems when we lived in London and Swansea was very nice people who all day go to work, play with their children. They were good people. When I was pregnant the neighbours offer to stay with the children, they have the children round when I went to hospital and still we are in contact.

Here only is the problem. We were worried about contacting the police in case they went round accusing the neighbours and things would get worse but they didn’t do that. They were very nice. They asked the neighbours if they had problems and ask them to keep an eye out if they see anything and report it. They said that some people in the bungalows at the bottom of the
garden also have had problems but now that had stopped.

Two to three houses nearby sometimes they have problems. There is a new family. They are from Wales and they are nice. They talk with my husband and they are frightened that what is happening with us might happen to them. I did not know who to talk to about this. My friend told me to talk to the council and the police but I was worried about the police. I talked to the council and they sent me the form for Housing Options but they said there is a very long waiting list.

I tried to move to London because my husband’s family is there. His sister has been married a long time and has grown up sons who love my daughter very much and think of her as a sister. But London is very expensive and I don’t really like it. One of my friends from the Women’s Group moved to London then she came back to Swansea. We tried to exchange with people in London and they came to look at our house. They liked the house very much but they said the area is not nice. I stayed quiet because they are right if I am not happy here then why would they be happy? I would feel I was cheating them so I stopped trying to exchange houses.

Sometimes I feel very bad. Even in our own house we feel not safe and if it is not safe it is not a home. My husband does delivering jobs and very often these are late evening. I check my door lots of times when he is out. I thought it would stop but then it got worse. I worry that although it stopped after the police came it will start again when they are not around.

My baby stopped eating properly and lost 1K he went from 11K to 10K and he does not settle well. My son will not play in the garden and my daughter does not like to sleep on her own anymore. They do not feel safe. My daughter drew a picture to show how cross she was.

I tried to set up a business selling Avon products and I made a YouTube cooking channel but when the children are not happy I think I have to spend my time with them. I feel better now I am talking to people and many people are trying to help – the police, the neighbours who did not talk to us before say they will help, the council. The police gave me a number to contact for support and the council says four to six weeks now so I feel happier but I am still so worried till we move.

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