DDVG‘s Ex-Detainee Project caseworker, Angie, gives some insights into the problems our clients face on a daily basis, and that she addresses through the project’s telephone helplines, open four days a week.
12 Feb 2013
Today I have spoken with a number of people who are living without support. Most either live with friends, mainly on a temporary basis; sofa surfing, or they may be living in a hostel. Some have exhausted their asylum claims and are waiting to be removed back to their country of origin; some have applied to return to their country, but due to UK Border Agency procedures or because their country is unstable, they cannot return home. Some are awaiting a decision on an outstanding fresh claim.
I spend time listening to the difficulties people face and I give emotional support, as well as trying to offer support by sign-posting them to support groups or organisations near to them who can help with providing clothes, meals and specialist legal advice. Our project also provides clients with a small amount of money to enable them to travel or buy food.
Bailed, but still detained
Also today I spoke to a client’s legal representative, who is still in immigration detention five days after being granted bail from immigration detention. The client was tortured in his country of origin and by the time he claimed asylum in the UK had developed mental health issues as a result of the treatment he suffered.
The client is waiting to have a tag fitted. Due to the delay in releasing him, his Section 4 accommodation has been withdrawn and his legal representative has today applied for another address to be allocated. We discussed the fact that this client is being unlawfully detained and she eventually agreed to pursue this. I found this frustrating as this should have been under consideration within a maximum of 48 hours of his bail being granted!
Family split up
Another man I spoke to today has been in the UK for over two years and has a wife and two children settled in the UK. His only hope of staying with his family in the UK is to make an application to the UK Border Agency, which will cost around £550. He doesn’t have access to this money, so he has applied to return to Ghana, a country he originally fled due to persecution. The UK refused his asylum application. I find this situation extremely sad as he feels he has no other options but to part from his family.
Young families left unsupported
A man who has been living with his wife and two young children in the UK contacted us for help. His wife had been suffering with post-natal depression and had been admitted into a specialist hospital, along with their young baby. He was living in a hostel with their other child, who is under three years old. He was struggling to cope emotionally. I have spoken to him on a number of occasions and he said that he felt a little better having someone to talk to.
We provided some emergency support to help him with travel costs to see his wife and baby in the hospital. Previously he had been walking the 45 minutes to the hospital with his young child in the cold. The family can’t afford sufficient clothing for the weather. We will continue to support him emotionally and with advice relating to social services support and housing, which he is now in the process of obtaining.
Life as a caseworker
As a caseworker on the Ex-Detainee Project I never know what problems people are going to have when I answer our helpline. Thankfully I can normally help in one way or another, even if its simply a friendly supportive ear for them to talk to. It’s a challenging role, however it gives you an amazing sense of achievement if you can sort out a situation for someone so vulnerable, existing in a country that constantly gives the impression that it doesn’t want you here.
I just always wish I could do more.