A new report, published by Caritas Westminster, puts a spotlight on the voices and experience of migrants and refugees.
The report, created following a “Wisdoms” listening exercise in partnership with the Mayday Trust, records the voices of 57 people who are seeking sanctuary in the UK. This kind of report enables people experiencing hardships to express their hopes and desires, encouraging a change of culture among organisations working to support them.
To start, all of the people were asked the same question: When you think of a good life, what does that mean to you?
Some people spoke about having the freedom to make choices and have control over their lives. Others wanted to contribute to their local communities, and to have a sense of purpose.
One person commented that she wished she was allowed to get a job: “"I like caring for people, but can't even do care work"
Another interviewee said “If I had papers, a good job, more money, it would give me more choices of what I can do”
Dr Trent Grassian from the Mayday Trust summarised the key themes in the report: “Wisdom from a Journey to a Good Life emphasised the importance of community, kindness, and giving people the power to shape their own lives – areas where each of us can play a part in supporting and helping others, even when many other aspects are beyond their and our control."
Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees, Bishop Paul McAleenan hailed it as “a welcome addition to the corpus of work concerned with the welfare of asylum seekers in the UK.”
The report makes several recommendations for anyone wishing to support people seeking sanctuary, whether as a staff member or volunteer in a charity, or simply as a neighbour:
- Remember everyone is an individual with their own dreams for the future.
- Basic needs must be met before people can move on.
- Find ways to support people’s mental health and be trauma-informed.
- Enable people to contribute to society and build up relationships.
- Give people choices as much as possible.
- Keep listening.
On its cover is the message “Be Kind”, as many of the interviewees emphasised the importance of patience and kindness. One person said, “In England they saved my life with the kindness they gave me... They were patient with me and I want to be patient with them”