X is 50 years old and has been living in the UK for nearly 18 years and has been receiving help from ASSIST since early 2019.
He was born in the Republic of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). X was forced to flee Zimbabwe after he was recruited to Mugabe’s militia. He became a target of political persecution after refusing to commit brutal acts against dissenters of the regime.
When he arrived in Sheffield, X had already been in the UK for a long time. He is a qualified builder and he had initially worked to support himself in London before the laws surrounding refused asylum seekers changed. He had escaped a violent relationship which had been his only source of financial support. His friends and family would no longer let him sleep on their sofas and he was completely destitute. He told us that at this point, having not eaten for days and getting very little sleep on the streets, he was feeling very weak. He was hearing voices and considering suicide.
This was 5 months ago. X considers himself a self-sufficient man, but realised at this point he had to look for help. He went to the Samaritans, who gave him a voucher to get some food and referred him to the Wednesday multi-service drop-in session at Victoria hall. X spoke to ASSIST volunteers there, they were very friendly and X said it was ‘like speaking to angels’. They gave him vouchers to eat at the Archer project and got him into the night shelter that same night. At the night shelter, X made friends and they went together to the Archer Project every day.
After one month, he started staying with an ASSIST host couple. He had his own bedroom in their house and access to a shower and other facilities. They made him feel very welcome. He said they are like family to him. Then one day, X received a call to say there was a room available for him in an ASSIST house. For the past few months, he has been living there with other refused asylum seekers, whilst he works on making a fresh claim. He feels he has everything he needs there. He receives small weekly welfare payments which he says go further thanks to the cheap meal spots and food banks signposted for him by ASSIST. He goes to the gym.
X feels much more confident now. ‘ASSIST has taken me from rock bottom, I had nobody, friends relatives wanted nothing to do with me, I was suicidal. Now I can think again, I can sleep, I can wash, god has intervened. It’s not only me anymore.’ ASSIST has empowered him to tackle the problems life throws at him. He says he now knows everything in life is a learning curve. ‘No man is an island. ASSIST gives you the little push you need’.