'All I wanted was to give back'
Today MPs have released a new report highlighting the vastly different level of integration help offered to different groups of refugees in the UK. Here, two refugees share their different experiences of settling into their new lives in Britain.
Anas* was forced to flee Syria after ISIS occupied his university and Assad’s regime attempted to draft him into the army.
After fleeing to Britain, Anas was recognised as a refugee. However, a spelling mistake by the Home Office on his official paperwork left him unable to access jobseekers’ allowance or secure accommodation.
As a result, Anas spent five months homeless, jobless and without any financial support whatsoever. He was forced to rely on the staffroom biscuit tin at the charity shop where he volunteered for sustenance.
“ISIS and Assad mean that it’s no longer safe for me at home. When I arrived in Britain I was so thankful to have been offered safety. All I wanted was to be a good person and give back to the country which sheltered me – but I couldn’t for no better reason than because my paperwork was wrong and it took five months to fix it. I will always be grateful to Britain, but I will never understand a system which stops people like me from getting on my feet and contributing to society.”
In contrast, Nour, another Syrian refugee, who came to Britain through the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme (VPRS), received correct paperwork in a timely fashion, had access to ESOL classes within weeks of arriving, and received assistance in finding steady accommodation. He is now studying Computer Science at Birmingham University and hopes to found a tech company.
“When I arrived in Britain, I wanted a hand up, not a hand out, to get back on my own two feet, continue my work and studies, and start supporting my family. I’m grateful to Britain for the support I received and I hope to have the opportunity to repay the country with my work. I want all refugees to have the same opportunity.”