“It was so good … it held me up stronger.”
Rowan’s story, unlike many where accommodation is secured, shows us the harsh reality faced by those who have lengthy and ongoing immigration cases which prevent stability or progress.
Rowan’s story started in 2001 when he came to the UK from Jamaica on a 6-month visa. For personal reasons, Rowan felt he needed to remain here in the UK, although the consequence of this was that he was now living illegally in the UK. Determined to find a solution, Rowan survived the next few years and thanks to a change in the law in 2010, the Home Office granted Rowan a 3-year visa. After the 3 years, he hoped to receive a final further 3-year visa which would lead to permanent status in the UK. By now, Rowan had two children in the UK and although he was dealing with conflict from his ex-partner, felt settled in life. He had his own place and was working for the council.
However, just a few months before the end of his 3-year visa, Rowan received a surprising letter from child support services which Rowan believes to be completely unjustified. “That is the whole thing that … put me in this situation,” he said. Good child care was essential to his application and any suspicion to the contrary would jeopardise the whole thing.
Consequently, Rowan was not granted his final visa. The Home Office kept his passport and Rowan became homeless and unemployed. Speaking of being homeless he said, “It’s not a good sight and horrible … I have seen things I never thought I would see with my own eyes ... you wake up in the morning from the night bus with nowhere to turn … it’s hard to find a ‘Mother Teresa’ around here.”
“Words cannot explain”
Although Rowan was denied the visa he hoped for, he contacted Praxis, an organisation that supports migrants in crisis. Seeing the injustice of the decision and the good prospects of having it overturned, Praxis willingly took on his immigration case and referred him to GrowTH.
GrowTH, he said, “… was amazing … the greatest thing is that you have a roof over your head, breakfast and dinner, you have fruits … words cannot explain … it is a pleasure meeting you guys, I’m just uplifted.” Rowan was also very impacted by the encouraging Christian messages and testimonies in the shelter evenings. He said, “It was so good … it held me up stronger.”
Whilst Rowan’s situation meant that his Advocate Worker was not be able to support him into accommodation, he continued to receive meaningful support in ways that helped build him up. “Paul is amazing,” he said. “The first time I met him with his smile I said ‘this thing is going to work.’”
Rowan speaks of the joys of being prayed for each morning in the shelter by an Advocate Worker. “I cannot leave without you praying for me,” he said. It is an area of support that Rowan still to this day appreciates. “It is amazing, you always call me and pray for me,” he smiles.
“I am just waiting for an answer”
Following Rowan’s stay in GrowTH, he met a kind stranger who invited him into his home. Thankfully, he has not as yet had to endure another night on the streets. His case still in progress, he is now awaiting a decision from the Home Office. He concludes, “Either they say yes or say no.” We continue to pray for him.
UPDATE : NOVEMBER 2018
The Home Office decision was made and Rowan was has now been given leave to remain.