Asylum seekers talk about what brought them to Bristol and their life here.
Man aged 45 years from Somalia
Being an asylum seeker is very hard and I am so lonely in this country which is so far away from my home. I came to the UK because I was shot and captured by the militia. They forced me to work for them for no wages carrying weapons. I tried many times to escape and finally I managed to run away and I got as far as Ethiopia. I got onto a plane that landed at Heathrow airport where I asked for asylum. I was very frightened because I knew that if the authorities sent me back home I would be captured again and this time they would certainly kill me. I have no where to live in Bristol. I sleep on a friend’s floor. I got tuberculosis while I was captured and I often find it hard to eat because I feel so ill and I am so far away from my life at home and my country. I wonder why I am alive.
Man aged 28 years from Iran
I was a member of a political party in Iran. We wanted freedom and democracy. When I was 20 years old I was arrested and put in prison where I was tortured. I was beaten on the soles of my feet. I was blindfolded, slapped and spun around and then forced at gunpoint to run hard at the walls so I would hit myself. Because I have no religion I was told that I was breaking Iran’s strict blasphemy laws and I was going to be arrested again, so I fled to Britain because you have democratic government here. In Iran the government is a dictatorship and corrupt. When I first arrived in Bristol I got a lot of help from the charities here. I know I am only alive today because of the help I was given. I get no money at all from the government to live on, only charities help me. I like to volunteer for charities so I can help other people settle in Bristol because it is so difficult when you first arrive.
Man aged 36 years from Somalia
There was a war in Somalia and there were fighters everywhere around my village. I was not involved at all, but my home was destroyed by rockets and there were bullet holes all over the walls. I was shot in my knees so I could not escape, my friends came and helped me. I managed to get on a plane to London as I couldn’t go home or I would have been shot dead. I volunteer for Borderlands as a cook in the kitchens so that the people who come can get something hot to eat. I have made some friends here and I am looking for a nice wife! I have been on my own in Bristol for over 10 years now waiting for my asylum claim to be processed by the UK government. I am not allowed to work in the UK until my papers are processed. I get no money from the government. I volunteer for charities so I can help people. I have learnt English since I arrived and I am still waiting for an answer on if I can stay here.
Man and wife from Pakistan
The village where I grew up was Catholic and then everything changed and the whole village became Muslim. Our family was told that we would have to become Muslim and my family agreed to this, but I couldn’t. I moved into another part of the town but because it was a Christian and Hindu area we were often attacked and I lost my job. We tried complaining to the Police but they said we were breaking the Muslim blasphemy laws and we had no right to complain if we were attacked. I thought it was safer to go home to my family’s house, but my mother and father attacked me with knives because they were scared what would happen to them if I went back home. I got on a plane to London because there was no where that was safe to go. My wife and I live in Bristol but our children have never seen their grandparents as we can’t go back.