I am an asylum seeker from Pakistan. Before I retired, I was a Civil Servant working in local government and rural affairs based in Lahore. I came to the UK in 2011 after having my life threatened. Unfortunately, law enforcement and the judicial system in my country offered me no protection. Therefore, I have looked for safety and sanctuary in Great Britain.
I appreciate the help my wife and I have received whilst living as asylum seekers. We live very frugally. We have no cash – we survive by using a card [the Azure card some asylum seekers get] which enables us to buy food. However, this card can only be used in large supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Morrison’s’ etc.) It is not accepted in local Asian stores so sometimes it is difficult to find food that would be cheaper in smaller shops.
I do not have enough money to buy a bus pass so I generally walk to the mosque and to appointments. I feel welcome in any a mosque in the city. I also like to visit St Chad’s Centre which is a place that provides a welcome space for asylum seekers in Birmingham City Centre.
I am fortunate that I have a son now living in Birmingham who visits me to look after my welfare, health and well-being.
I am a member of Birmingham Asylum and Refugee Association (BARA) which was formed to provide fellowship and support to those people in my situation living in Birmingham. I attend meetings and training sessions at BARA. I have also helped distribute copies of the Migrant Voice newspaper on the streets in Birmingham. I want to continue to do more voluntary work.
This interview is part of a series of stories of migrants in Birmingham produced by participants of Migrant Voice's 'Many Faces, One City' project. The project celebrates the contribution of migrants to life in Birmingham. It brought together migrants and host community in Birmingham to build their skills in telling stories of migration through text, photo, film and social media.