Thanks to corruption and cover-ups, few people realise how bad the political situation in Malawi is. After Patrick got involved with politics, it became clear that he was no longer safe, and so he left his home and job for the UK.
Asylum seekers' stories
‘I was forced to flee Guinea because of my family’s political opposition to the military government. After six months in the UK my asylum claim was rejected and I was left homeless, hungry and terrified of being deported.
‘I am from Harare in Zimbabwe. In 2008 I wrote an e-mail to a friend criticising the corrupt means by which the Mugabe government was re-elected. That e-mail was intercepted and an arrest warrant was taken out against me. As a result, I am seeking asylum in the UK – I cannot return to Zimbabwe because I would face arrest and the threat of violence. It is five years and three rejected asylum cases since I have seen my wife and my youngest son. As a refused asylum seeker I have no right to work or to study, to accommodation, to benefits or to any support from public funds.
‘I came to Sheffield via Ethiopia, Sudan, Italy and France. My homelessness in France was particularly difficult. When I got to Sheffield, the Eritrean community told me of ASSIST and how the people might help improve my situation. There were also some Eritrean volunteers in ASSIST.
‘After I was refused asylum, a lady at the Refugee Council in Barnsley gave me some advice. Rather than sit and think about things all the time, I should use my time actively instead: take language classes, get involved in voluntary work, participate, use my time constructively. Prove the value of my life here. All this would help my cause when it came to making a fresh claim. She also said if I wanted help, I had to ask for it and I was told of organisations like ASSIST who might help.