Fully Freely Alive 2240 X 1260

Fully, Freely Alive

When I come to Oxford in 2019, I didn’t have anyone. I was sleeping in the road, the park. Some Kurdish people, from my country, they live here. Same culture, so they help. They give me food. One week I sleep there, one week another place. One guy said to me, ‘Go to Asylum Welcome. If you want help, they can help you.’ And I go, straightaway. When I talk about my situation, they helped me, gave me ten pounds, and then food. They supported me, for money, food, finding a GP.

Then, when lockdown happened, I didn’t have any place to go. The different people I’d been staying with, when Covid comes, they say to me, ‘I cannot support you anymore.’ Everybody who is homeless at that point, when Covid comes, is given a place by Oxfordshire Homeless Movement. Some in Canterbury House and some in a hotel. It was nice there; I was in the Travelodge for two months. There was food. It was safe. Then Canterbury House. There you see a lot of people. Different people, different languages. It was good. I was in Canterbury House four or five months. But that closed because this place was for students, and they were coming back.

So then, Asylum Welcome, they sent me to Connection Support. They said, ‘We’ll find another company for people in your same housing situation, so you don’t need to worry. So you will not be homeless.’ And Connection Support helped me. They gave me money. When I needed an interpreter, they got an interpreter for me. He explained things for me, he speaks a similar language. So then they sent me here, and now I have a house. I live with two others – one Kurdish, one Afghani. We have a similar culture. So we are happy living together. And I don’t think we’re gonna be homeless anymore. We don’t like to be homeless.

“Back home, we run away. Staying in Iraq, it was risking my life. So that’s why I run away. I don’t think anybody’s happy to leave home. We come here to be fully, freely alive.”

We didn’t know we’d be homeless here. We are homeless because we don’t have nothing. And we came to UK to be free – but we turned out not to be free, just homeless. But now this company, they support me. I appreciate it. If they didn’t, I’d have to stay out on the road. In parks. So now I really feel happy. We have come to home.

We feel free. And they support us. They help whenever I have any problems, we have contact. They don’t tell you, ‘Oh, you have to leave the room at this time, and the house.’ No, they just say to me, ‘This is your house, this is your room. Any problems with the house, let us know, we’re gonna come to fix it.’ Before, staying with different people, I would have to call a friend. ‘Are you home? I want to come back and sleep.’ Or when I needed to shower, I couldn’t because maybe he wanted to. You know? Before, even people who helped me, they have a life. They have to do something. So I have to stay outside, waiting to sleep, waiting to shower. Now I know when I want to come back to the house, I can come back. Now I have a room. Now I am in control of my situation. My life is completely different now because I have house. I’m free to come in, free to go out. Eat when I want, cook when I want. I want to do it, I do it. It’s important for me because now I’m really happy – I feel free. It’s been really better. Having your home means that you have a much fuller life.

And then if we need something, they let you know, all these people, the staff, they have good contact with me. I’m not very stressed now, about having a place. Because if anything happens, these people, they let me know. So I’m not thinking for future, ‘Am I gonna be homeless again, and sleep in the park?’ This for me was very difficult, thinking I might live again in the park, or the street. So, it improves my mental health, not to worry about the future again.

These people, the staff in Connection Support, they help, they’re working hard, they’re professional – but also, they speak to me nicely. Even the managers, they’ve dropped me off in Banbury for an appointment, taking me by car. I don’t feel like they’re just doing a job, you know, I think they’re kind.

They’re kind. They call you up and ask first, ‘How’s it going? How’s life?’ and everything. And then they say, ‘Tomorrow you have this appointment. Can you please do it?’ Not just straightaway telling you what they want or what you have to do. When people respect you, they speak to you nice, you feel happy. For me it’s important. I’m happy with these people.

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