Sam is one of many experts by experience Refugee Action works with to help shape and inform our campaigning work. She has been in the UK asylum system, waiting for a decision on her asylum claim, for more than seven years. She has written this letter to supporters of Refugee Action to encourage them to remember refugees and people seeking asylum in their conversations with parliamentary candidates in the lead up to the General Election.
The 2019 General Election campaign is now underway. This is a key opportunity to ensure that Britain is a nation which welcomes and supports people fleeing war and persecution.
I have been in the asylum process for seven years now and it’s been a traumatic experience. It feels like a different kind of persecution. Words cannot express the physical and mental health implications of being made to wait indefinitely. I personally have experienced depression, low self-esteem, isolation and uncertainty. I can only describe the feeling as being in a dark cage, not knowing when you’ll see the sunlight, unable to move forward.
The politicians in parliament making laws that affect our lives – would they walk in the shoes of an asylum seeker? Would they be able to live on £5.38 a day? Would they be able to wait seven years or more, not knowing where their future is going?
I would ask you to talk to your candidates – we are here to be part of your communities. We want to contribute positively to society. We just want a safe place to call home, and the opportunity to provide for ourselves. When you think of refugees and asylum seekers, remember that they’re people just like you, who hope to have a better life and bright future.
Thank you for standing with us – together, we can create a better society and a better world.