Members of Parliament debated the right to work for me and other people claiming asylum on Wednesday 18 November.
Speaking for the Government, Home Office Minister Chris Philp presented various arguments for keeping the ban in place, including that lifting it might somehow encourage people to make ‘illegal’ journeys to the UK and that he was working on a ‘firm and fair’ asylum system.
None of this does anything to address the situation which is being faced by people legally pursuing their right to claim asylum right now. My claim is still being processed nine years after it was made. I’ve been banned from working since then, relying not even on the Asylum Support payments of less than £40 per week, but on the kindness of others.
As a qualified carer, during the health and social care crisis caused by the pandemic, Chris Philp’s deflections don’t help me or any of the people I could be helping if I were allowed to work.
In my home country, my husband, daughter and I were victims of persecution. We were threatened, but thankfully we didn’t give them the chance to hurt us because we hid, and stayed on the move. It was a very hard for us.
I first came to the UK as a student. Having studied computer science back home, I decided to study further. I then got a job as a carer alongside my studies, and began working with people suffering from learning and mental health difficulties.
I could not imagine that in care work, I would find my true calling. I worked in this for over three years, because I loved this work and I love these people. This inspired me to switch my education to study health and social care management, Which I graduated from in 2011.
Shortly afterwards, we were forced to seek asylum. My husband returned to our home country to see if the danger for us had subsided. We quickly realised we could not return, and were forced to seek safety.
When we applied for asylum, we begged them to give us work permits – we couldn’t think of not being able to work. They didn’t listen to us.
I have struggled so much over the last nine years – if I started writing what we have been through, I will never finish.
For nine long years, I have not been able to pursue my passion, which lies in helping others.
During this coronavirus time, it is awful to sit back and not be able to help people. It is horrible for me to see there is a shortage of carers. I am a UK-qualified carer. Can you imagine?
How can I sit back and see this situation going on, when I could be helping? I feel very bad and sorry for myself and the country that I cannot use my life in this crucial moment to help others.
People should understand what we go through. People say that we get Government money, but this is not what we want. This isn’t life – someone giving you money like you’re a beggar.
If asylum seekers got the permission to work, our lives would be completely different. We can contribute to society, contribute to the country, pay tax and we will feel like human beings.
We were not poor back home, we had a life there. We did not come here for a better life. We had a better life.
If there was security in my country for minorities, we would not be here. We are suffering here more than there, but at least our lives aren’t in danger.
I want to say to the government: use our lives to help others. We can contribute skills and pay tax.
The whole country should be standing with us to lift the ban, and allow us to work.
If you’d like to join our campaign to lift the ban and give people seeking asylum the right to work you can email your MP below.
This post was originally published on Refugee Action.