'Hello, how are you?'

‘Hello, how are you’?

‘Because of the nature of my visa, I do not qualify for any support from the government even though I have lived here for eight years. In addition, my employer does not want to put me in the Job Retention Scheme, and instead wants me to come to work while he manages the team remotely. I understand the risks involved in this, and know I am putting others at risk of infection but I do not have any options. What do you  advise me?’

These disheartening lines are from a migrant who lives in the UK with ‘No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)’. During the lockdown, Zara (not her real name) was forced into a situation of exposing herself and others around her to coronavirus infection by working in a busy area where there were no proper safety protocols. I asked her if she could take unpaid leave and she told me there was no such policy in the company. Even if she had that option, she would not ask for unpaid leave, as she had to cover for her essential living expenses.

Awet (not his real name) is an asylum seeker. He lives in a shared asylum accommodation and receives £5.37 per day in the form of Asylum Support Allowance. Following calls from refugee organizations for a weekly uplift of the asylum support, the Home Office announced a £26p daily increase in June of this year. I asked Awet about this and he said while he is thankful for the support he receives, the £26p/day increase is an increase in name only.

I asked Zara and Awet how they are keeping in touch with their loved ones during the lockdown. Both said they are unable to contact their families. Awet does not have TV and internet access in his asylum accommodation and Zara said she could not afford to pay for internet broadband. Before the lockdown measures were imposed, many refuges and asylum seekers would go to local refugee organizations and use Wi-Fi to connect with their families back home. Currently, however, they cannot do this, as offices remain closed. Zara and Awet’s stories are the stories of many migrants who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. 

They are unable to do what many of us may take for granted—to say hello to their loved ones. Worryingly, this has started to become a contributing factor to their loneliness and isolation. In the spirit of showing our solidarity, I am therefore asking you to donate to my fundraising campaign and help the many Awets and Zaras to say ‘Hello, how are you?’ to their families and friends.
 
                      How do I intend to use the money received?

I have recently (re)-joined RETAS Leeds. RETAS is a Leeds based refugee organization that supports refugees and asylum seekers in West Yorkshire. For many migrants, including myself, RETAS is another ‘home away from home’. I am aiming to support 50 asylum seekers and other migrants with NRPF by raising £1000.00. With your donations, I will buy 50 international calling cards (eg. Maxi Talk) worth of £10 each and internet data for £500, again worth of £10 each.

Thank you for your generous donations.

Donations

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  • Anonymous 
    • £175 
    • 1 mo
  • Laura King 
    • £10 
    • 1 mo
  • Natasha Halsey 
    • £10 
    • 1 mo
  • Anonymous 
    • £10 
    • 1 mo
  • Anonymous 
    • £50 
    • 1 mo
See all

Organizer

Tesfalem Yemane 
Organizer
Leeds, Yorkshire and the Humber, United Kingdom
RETAS LEEDS 
Registered nonprofit
Donations eligible for Gift Aid.
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