Conditions imposed on asylum seekers in the UK make parenting almost impossible. People are detained indefinitely in removal centres, even while the Home Office can’t remove them. Asylum seekers initially refused by the Home Office, if they are released, are banned from working and made to live under Section 4 or without support. Four fathers reflect on their experiences.
He misses me: Alpha
I have a son who is nearly 7. He has been constantly asking about me whenever I call him. He is always telling me that he misses me and he wants to see me. We are so close. I used to go and pick him up every other day, buy him things and play with him. My presence in detention has seriously affected my chances of seeing him.
Alpha: detained in an immigration removal centre for 8 months and counting.
A normal father: Zeto
My son is 5. He is in London but the Home Office moved me to Liverpool. I can’t bring my son to Liverpool because the Home Office does not allow visitors in the accommodation. Under Section 4, I am not allowed to work but I am also not allowed to receive cash, only vouchers. I can’t provide for my son, can’t buy clothes for him, like a normal father. The Home Office will try to tell me I am not good enough to be supporting my child.
I made a fresh claim for asylum to the Home Office one year and three weeks ago today but I am still waiting for a reply.
Zeto: released from immigration detention in 2011. Made to live under Section 4 for two years and counting.
My kids suffer: Toyin
My sons are 13 and 4. When my oldest son was very young I had to take him with me to beg for food at a church. Everyone was saying to me, ‘why don’t you go to work instead of begging for food’, because they didn’t know anything about me, that I’m not allowed to work. I was so embarrassed for my son.
I have been in the UK for 12 years but I am not allowed to work while the Home Office deals with my case. Because my case is not an asylum claim I don’t get any support. It is stressful, mentally and physically exhausting.
My oldest son now has now been granted leave to remain, but when I was detained in an immigration removal centre I couldn’t see my son or my wife because they didn’t have status in the UK at that time.
It’s the Home Office that is delaying your case but it’s not like you’re not living your life while you’re bringing your case. My kids have had to suffer. It makes them more quiet and withdrawn and they have found it hard to mix with other kids.
You’re living in limbo while the Home Office is taking the time to make the right decisions. They tried to remove me and they almost removed our family.
Toyin: released from immigration detention 2011. Banned from working and living without support for two years and counting
My children look up to me: Roger
I have two children who look up to me but I’m unable to deliver. This is agonizing. My daughter is 4 and my son is 8 months. For my daughter’s birthday she normally has a list of things she wants and the kind of party she would like. I am unable to provide this. She has friends who invite her for play-dates but she cannot do the same as I cannot afford that.
Roger: claimed asylum in 2004, still waiting for his case to be resolved by the Home Office.