Guest Story: Aref
“Before I was homeless, now I get room. It’s good.”
Fleeing Persecution Aref came to the UK as a refugee fleeing religious persecution In his home country of Iran he was not free to practice his faith, having to meet in secret to worship. He remembers clearly how one week he was late for a worship meeting and arrived to find the police arresting his fellow worshippers. Aref fled. He found out later that the police came to raid his home later that week and detained his father for one night in prison. With the help of his brother Aref managed to hide in a lorry which took him to Turkey. A further three lorries got him into the UK, taking two weeks in total. Claiming asylum Once in the UK he claimed asylum on the basis of the religious persecution he experienced in Iran. He was given temporary accommodation whilst the Home Office considered his claim. In time, he was awarded asylum and was free to make a new life for himself in the UK. However, even though he was now entitled to work in the UK and access state benefits, Aref simply did not know how to find a job or access this help. His temporary accommodation soon came to an end and he found himself on the streets. “Before I was homeless, now I get room. It’s good” Aref describes his experience of homelessness: “Very difficult: no shower, no sleep, no good food, nothing; winter is cold.” Thankfully he found his way to the homeless charity Crisis Skylight. Crisis referred Aref to GrowTH’s shelter and Aref was grateful to get a bed. In his words, “Night shelter is good; for everything help. Before I was homeless, now I get room. It’s good.” Looking Forward With the resettlement assistance of his Advocate Worker, Aref moved into a room in a shared house in South East London. Now settled, he is taking classes at a local college to learn English. In Iran he worked as a mechanic. In the future, he hopes to get a job in that field in the UK.