Living in the UK

Fawad

In September 2005, I had to leave Afghanistan at the age of 13 due to civil war. I spoke very little English, but soon I could read and write, and now I love to write creatively, to share my experiences.

As a child, I feel that my opportunities were very limited due to the unfortunate situation of my home country. However, in 2010 I turned to boxing to channel my energies in a positive way. I have become a great enthusiast. It has made me very self-disciplined in regards to my training routine and other aspects of my life. I’m also a member of the  ‘Fight for Peace Academy’ and compete for my club.

Studying at University is my dream. I would like to study Law, because I have had first-hand experience of the Immigration System in the UK. I am studying ‘Access to Law’ which has captured my imagination.

By gaining a law degree it will allow me to pursue a career which means I will be able to help other people. I sincerely believe that I am capable and intelligent enough to be a great success at university. I just wish that I will be allowed to stay in this country, which now I see as my home.  I have only a year left to stay…

J

I arrived alone in the UK when I was 14, fleeing persecution. I built a life for myself here, going to school and college, learning English and now I am studying for an IT qualification. I have made friends and a future for myself in London, but I am facing having all of that taken away from me.

Last year I was in detention for three months and during this time I was told 7 times that a flight had been booked for me to go back to Afghanistan. I am now waiting for a decision about my final appeal to remain in the UK; whether I can stay in London and continue my life, or whether I will be forcibly removed to Afghanistan.

In my country it was like I was like a switch that was switched off, but now I live in the UK I’ve been switched on. Before I didn’t know anything, but now I know a lot and I’m learning every day about what’s happening in the world. I have built my life here, and believe that my future is here, not in Afghanistan.

As they settle into UK life these young people begin work, form friendships and relationships. They grow up and put down roots. But as P from Afghanistan finds out, having connections and roots brings harsh contradictions, and ‘normal life’ becomes impossible, even dangerous, to pursue.

H has really good school friends. He hangs out with them, goes to the gym, goes on Uni visits with them. They have a good laugh and talk about their girlfriends. But when H is away from them, alone in his room, he’s someone very different. His friends only see the act that he puts on every day.

H has a good mentor and English friends. He lives between two cultures. He’s excited to celebrate Christmas and he goes with his mentor to Church. Here he finds belonging, though he must navigate these different religious beliefs.

M goes most weeks to a Birmingham youth club where he helps other young asylum-seekers to adjust to UK life. He’d wanted to work as UK ambassador at the London Olympics but was not allowed. He tries to make life easier for the newcomers while his own situation is uncertain.

M lives in the Midlands. He has a strong relationship with his foster mum and dad, and little foster-sister. M’s dream is to work hard, get a decent job, and settle down near to the family. But as he nears 18, he starts to fear this dream will be snatched away. How will they all cope with this?

AD lives in West London. He is from Darfur, where he saw all his family killed. AD bravely attends protest rallies outside the Sudanese Embassy, though he knows that surveillance operates there – which could make things dangerous for him if he’s sent back. He will never back down from his views. He’s only just eighteen.

AD , from Darfur, was brave enough to speak at a public demonstration outside the Sudanese Embassy in London. He was then invited to join the official delegation to 10 Downing Street, to put his case to government officials. He’s thrilled to be speaking to national leaders about UK’s policy of returning Darfuris to Sudan. But can he make a difference?

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