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Volunteering keeps me going: Life of a destitute asylum seeker in Swindon

Ahmed (not his real name to protect his identity) shares his daily life experiences as a person seeking sanctuary in the UK in the current COVID-19 crisis.

I arrived by aeroplane
I escaped from Somalia
I am a victim of Torture and Slavery.
I lost my loved ones, my family members.

The Al-Shabaab extremist terrorist group tried to kill me twice. I was very happy when I arrived in the UK because I was expecting my life to be better and to feel safe. But unfortunately my life became a different nightmare after my asylum application was refused.

Picture: Swindon Advertiser

I love Swindon and I enjoy my volunteer work at the Great Western Hospital, working for the NHS which I continue to do during this pandemic. It’s a difficult situation to be an asylum seeker for such a long time; it makes your life very hard. I feel the lack of freedom; I can’t do what I want to do for my future. I can’t go to University, I can’t go on holiday, I’m not allowed to work, and if we are lucky we will live on less than £6 a day. I feel different from my friends who came to the UK around the same time as me, because the Home Office has granted them their right to live in the UK and they are doing better. I feel sad when those who I have lived with, who I used to cook for, call me and ask me about my asylum application as I have no good news to tell them.
I find it hard to understand the grounds I have been refused by the Home Office. This situation triggers all the difficulties I went through in the past. This is why Swindon is important to me because I have met good people here.

I volunteered for a charity called The Harbour Project, who also introduced me to another charity Swindon City of Sanctuary who housed me when I became homeless. Kind people I have met told me the hospital needed volunteers. I applied immediately and I was pleased when I was given the opportunity to start.

I had training provided by the Hospital and started volunteering there in 2018 in the most busy ward caring for the elderly who have chronic diseases. I gave them lunch, tea & coffee, and helped with their personal care. I chatted with them; I would tell them stories to make them happy. I’d also tell them jokes too and would help to feed them.
They really appreciated that and I feel very happy and blessed I could help them. Currently during Covid-19 most of the volunteers have needed to self-isolate, I continue to Support the Hospital Staff. I’m volunteering 25 hours, 5 days a week. Despite my current situation supporting others is one of the things I enjoy doing, it motivates and keeps me going.

I make sure that all staff working with coronavirus patients are fed and watered and get the supplies they need to their wards; so that they do not have to leave their areas. After that I go and help Brighter Future Foundation with its donations and collections. I offload, store and distribute donations to the hospital wards.
In the future I want to build a bright future here in Swindon. I want to settle here and work here .Because I love the people I met here. They have a special place in my heart and I am wishing much love to everyone in this town during these hard times.

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One Response to “Volunteering keeps me going: Life of a destitute asylum seeker in Swindon”

  1. Trish

    Thank you for everything you’re doing. Swindon is blest to have you. I pray you will hear good news re your application. Take care and stay safe x