My name is Solomon, and I’m from Eritrea. I left Eritrea when I was 23 and am now 25. IWhen I first came to the UK I had nothing, not even clothes. Everything was very strange, and I did not understand how things worked, and I didn’t know what to do. In desperation I looked on the internet and found a page about helping refugees on it and I put a notice up asking if anyone could help me find some clothes.
A lady called Katie answered. She worked with Care4Calais. She said a volunteer would bring some clothes to the hotel I had been put in. I was happy to get those clothes. Katie kept in touch and said she’d visit me, but then I was moved to Napier Barracks.
Napier was horrible place. You have to sleep in rooms of 20 people with no privacy at all. All there was to do was worry, but when I explained that in a message to Katie, she sent me some books so I could pass the time. These gave me something to do instead of worrying about what would happen to me.
After Napier I was moved again to Warrington where I got my asylum. Katie came to see me to celebrate. I felt a huge relief but after a few days I realised another struggle was ahead. Once you pick up your Biometric Residence Card the Home Offiuce tells you must move out of your accommodation in 28 days. As I had been living on £39 a week I couldn’t save anything for a deposit or anything like that, and it would take me a long time to get a job, so I didn’t know what to do.
When I told Katie about it, she said, “Well you can come to stay with me until you find a place. It was so kind of her. I will never forget it. So I moved in with Katie, her husband and children for two weeks and it was wonderful. They were all so nice to me. It gave me time to find a house and Universal Credit and all the things I needed to begin my life here. I found a room in a house in London and soon I got a job in a Sainsbury’s warehouse.It was Katie’s hello that made this possible.
I could not have stayed in Eritrea. I left because I am a Christian and my families political and religious views are very different from those of the government. In Eritrea there is no protection for those who stand against the government and you can either be disappeared or killed. That is if you survive the endless national service.
I left my wife and children in a camp in Sudan. I did not have enough money to pay for all of us, and anyway my wife and small children could not have made the long journey, and survived as I did living on the streets in Greece for two years. It is best they wait until I can bring them to the UK safely.
I work very long hours, because I want to bring my family and for them to be safe.
The UK has given me hope, but I heard about the Rwanda plan. It is awful and not safe for us to go there. But I do not believe this is the true heart of the UK. Most people are like Katie and want to welcome us and help us do better. I have stayed friends with Katie and before I left her house I took them all out for a special thank you meal of traditional Eritrean food.