Women of Courage
Two women share their experiences of asylum and migration with our Trustee, Monojit Chatterji.
Sima is a mother of two living in Glasgow. This is her story. She was born and educated in one of Pakistan’s large cities. She is a graduate from a leading Pakistani University. Her husband is connected to one of the political parties in Pakistan. Life became intolerable and dangerous for the family because of the political fallout. The family received threats. The police did nothing to protect them. In fear of their lives, Sima decided they must leave. They got tourist visas and came to Britain landing in Manchester in 2018. Sima applied for refugee status from Manchester. She was called (with her family) to a Home Office appointment in Croydon in 2019 where they were able to persuade the authorities to consider their claim through the formal process. At this stage they were given right to remain whilst their case was being heard. They still have not got formal status as refugees even though they applied over a year ago.
The family receives Home Office support under Section 95. This provides basic housing, over which people seeking asylum have no say, and £37 per week per person. Sima and her family were sent to Glasgow where they knew no one. They now live in a tiny flat and receive £148 per week for food, transport, clothing, and all other necessary expenses.
Sima approached RST for support and has now been involved in a number of community projects including singing with a choir. She is desperate to get a job, but she cannot work until she gets her refugee status. Despite this harrowing uncertainty, she remains upbeat and seeks to make greater inroads and impact on community life in Glasgow where she has found friendship and understanding.
Carmen is a young mother of one who lives in Glasgow. She came to the UK from Southern Africa several years ago on a student visa. Having completed her studies, she was given leave to remain for two further years with the right to work. She moved to Glasgow. Finding work was not easy as she faced discrimination at interviews. During this time, she got pregnant and her son was born in Glasgow. As her two year visa was expiring, she applied to remain in the UK under the “family life as a parent” clause since her son was born here. She is still in that process but has the right to work. She must renew her visa every two years and pay up to £2,000 for the renewal as well as £625 to access NHS services. Carmel remains optimistic caring for her son and working part time with a voluntary organisation, supporting volunteers. Carmen supports others (like Sima) and provides practical advice based on her own experience and knowledge.
Women of courage supporting and helping to empower other women of courage.