Not only homeless in Ilford but penniless too
Ali is a young asylum seeker who spent a year living in one of the Reading hotels I volunteer in, before the Home Office moved him to a room in a house fifty miles away in Ilford.
This should have been a new start for him, but a mix-up with the accommodation arrangements and address records left Ali not only homeless in Ilford but penniless too.
Imagine how that feels: not only being in a completely new and alien place, in a country you don’t know well, but also homeless, and without any way of paying for anything at all.
Having spent a year in the hotel in Reading, Ali figured the best way to get help was to head back here, and to try to contact one of us who volunteered at his hotel.
He made it – but as bad luck would have it, it was a Friday evening, and when I called the Home Office for help, it was closed for the weekend. We couldn’t bear the idea of him having to sleep on the streets so we paid for him to stay in a hostel over the weekend, and on Monday we helped him access emergency accommodation in another Home Office hotel.
That might seem like the end of the story, but life for refugees is rarely so simple. His new hotel was in Swindon, 40 miles west from us. His belongings – including his vital paperwork – were still in Essex, 50 miles east.
I needed to fix this problem, but in order to do this I really needed our wonderful network of volunteers!
First off was a call to Caroline in the Care4Calais Ilford team, who rescued Ali’s suitcases and paperwork, and kept them safe. Then Colin, of our Reading team, drove from Reading to Swindon (via Ilford!) to reunite a relieved Ali with his things.
We were delighted to see Ali reunited with his belongings, and he thanked us for caring enough about him and his things to go to this effort.
As UK volunteers we don’t just support refugees who are already in accommodation. Sometimes, our help makes the difference between someone having a roof over their head or being on the streets. And by working together across the country, we make all the more difference; it’s a network of practical compassion and love, and we are proud of our work and each and every person involved in it.
Join our team of dedicated volunteers by emailing [email protected]