Opera singer Emily links up refugees with lawyers
When Emily joined our Access Team a few months ago, she started helping a lovely and exceptionally polite young man from Yemen to find a lawyer in the UK. Over the weeks they became good friends, and one day he confided in her that he was suffering from clinical depression and had visited A&E in search of urgent help. Emily was heartbroken.
He wanted to share that information in case it was relevant to his lawyer, but Emily could tell it was a cry for help too. She knew he wanted to do something productive with his time, but asylum-seekers aren’t allowed to work. Since then the two have shared a strong connection and she has gone above and beyond to honour his trust in her: introducing him to volunteers who can improve his English, helping him with lawyer appointments, sourcing him the essentials he needs to live comfortably.
At the beginning of the year the 28-year-old opera singer never expected she would be swapping the stage for a laptop at home, but she has fit into our team like a glove. In between doing full-time admin work for a new job, Emily links up as many refugees as she can with legal help to make sure they have the best chance of getting asylum.
Sometimes she worries that her contribution is just a drop in the ocean. There are so many people who need help. But when things feel frustrating, Emily reminds herself that it’s important for refugees to feel like someone is making an effort for them. Psychologically, it can make a world of difference to know someone out there is trying to help. Without this they could easily lose hope.
So Emily carries on, trying to make a difference wherever she can. More recently, she helped a man source a smartphone – his was so old he couldn’t connect to WiFi, so it was difficult to stay in touch with him. Because his English is limited, he also relies on Google Translate to talk to her and his lawyer. Not having access to such a basic communication tool can make the already daunting experience of being in a strange country feel much worse.
Phones are probably the most important things we can give refugees. Not only do they help them stay in touch with their lawyers, but it’s their only link to family, friends, medical care and key services.
To buy a phone for a refugee visit care4calais.org/donate