(A poem from the foodbank, set up by Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers during the Corona lockdown)
There’s a young man crying in the churchyard.
Separated from family and friends
I’m kneeling beside him
He feels lonely and frustrated depending on the Home Office* to meet his needs.
Afraid to return home due to persecution for political beliefs
Waiting 9 years waiting waiting
I feel his truth; he’s crying in a church yard.
What can I do? I can listen, try to hold the space, listen, listen to his eyes and to his wet face.
Back inside the food bank where we both volunteer, we put cans into bags.
May this food sustain these bodies so they may teach me compassion, and they may stand,
*The Home Office processes asylum claims.
Under the ‘Hostile Environment’, named by Theresa May the then home secretary, waits have become longer some twice this length during this time individuals remain in detention centres or in housing many organisations have called vastly inadequate and crowded and receive £35 a week to cover all food, travel and other personal expenses toiletries, phone bill. They are welcome to leave the system at any time.
In my experience (relationship with asylum seekers) the results of the system is unkind and proves detrimental to mental health and well being. Thanks to many NGOs people have some additional support.