Example10 Example11 MCH LSE Refuge City ATH Refugee Info 003
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People MCH LSE Refuge City ATH Refugee Info 003

Get to know the newcomers, activists and volunteers we met in Athens, Berlin and London, as they share their personal experiences of refuge, welcome and the digital city.


Soumaya

MCH LSE Refuge City LDN Embrace UK 002

Soumaya
Haringey, London, August 2018

I’m more than a translator, I’m like a social worker. Sorting out phones, bank cards, GPs, benefits… it takes about six months until the families kind of feel settled in. I’m currently being paid to support six families in Haringey, but the families I'm no longer paid to support are still calling me nearly every day. My phone is always ringing!

The agency I work for is hired by the council to support the resettled families. I just fill out timesheets and they send me my pay and no one asks me anything. I feel like I need to deal with the problems of the people I support completely on my own. Once, I felt like there was an issue that really needed to be raised, so I sent an email. I got a response thanking me, but there was no meeting to discuss it. It’s very frustrating. I end up spending the little time I have for myself doing research online for the information the families ask me about. My friend told me I need to learn to have boundaries, and I do try… but I also feel happy to do it for them, to help them feel relaxed instead of worrying.

(austerity)

MCH Refuge City LDN Family2 458

In the beginning, the families are just worried about income. It's challenging to explain the rules for welfare benefits and that it takes a long time to get replies. They ask me when it's coming, and I have to tell them to just wait. The Welcome to the UK book may help but the main problem is language... and understanding how the system works.

Some of the families I work for have been here for 6 months, and they feel bullied into finding a job. The Job Centre tells them they will suspend support if they don’t start working. But they don’t even speak English yet. One person who is disabled hasn’t received his disability allowance, and he has depression because of the war he fled, but they are on his case to find a job and start working. Some have been hit by bombs and have lost limbs. Even though they are here in the UK now, most feel like the war has not left them.

(loss, London)

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