Ahead of the results of the 2019 General Election, members of the campaigning group Refugee and Asylum Seeker Voice (RAS Voice) have shared their hopes for the new Government. They say this election is critical for people seeking asylum – which is why they’re campaigning for change.
This is a critical election for asylum seekers.
We hope whoever becomes Prime Minister thinks about us, refugees and asylum seekers. We face problems and experience suffering that not many people know about. The asylum process is difficult and painful. We run from our countries because of persecution and we arrive needing help, but the process makes us mentally unwell. This adds to our trauma. We are people like everyone else.
Many of us wait many years for status. In that time, most of us cannot study or work, and with the little money we receive we cannot live, only survive. It would be better if we were allowed to improve our lives, so we can give back to society.
Too many of us are taking risks to get to the UK to find safety, like in the back of a lorry or on board an inadequate boat. People die. Why do we take these risks? The answer is because our lives are in danger and there is no easy way for us to come to the UK to claim asylum. We are forced to pay smugglers to take us on long and dangerous journeys.
The Government could help those of us outside the country to claim asylum from where we are, so we would not take that risk. We can explain our situation and why we need to come here. Or the Government could increase the number of us they allow in legally and safely through resettlement programmes. This would also stop us being separated from our children and families
People think we are aliens, that we come from different worlds. But we need to be integrated into the community. We are human.
We want to have the right to work and to use our skills while we wait for a decision on our asylum claim. We are politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists, artists, engineers and we want to be able to use our skills and pay tax. We can fend for ourselves. It would be better for the economy and give us a sense of purpose and belonging. Some people can wait for five, 10, 15 years without any status. The wait and fear kills their morale, and it becomes difficult for that person to integrate into society.
If we want to integrate into British society, we have to learn English first. It’s hard to adjust to life in a new country, and it’s even harder when you cannot speak the language. But there are not many classes to help us. Learning English would help us speak to our doctor or to communicate with people in the park. When we cannot, we feel isolated.
In many of the places we have fled, elections are bad. Here in the UK, it is different. You are free. You choose your own leader who stands for people. That is a good thing.
We would like to ask every politician who is running in this election: if you get into office, look into issues affecting refugees and asylum seekers and make sure that every one of us is treated with the same respect as all people in the UK.