Aysha has a history of physical abuse and forced prostitution back in her country which lasted for about 5 years. She was referred to the Women’s Project by Refugee Council in November 2015, following the identification of ongoing support needs around difficulties in dealing with her trauma symptoms and the pressure that her insecure immigration status was having on herself.
Aysha presented as a very distressed individual. Whilst she outwardly appeared resilient, she was experiencing significant depression and high levels of anxiety. She did not sleep well and suffered from intense headaches as well as pains in her body. She was often very upset and found it hard to manage the stress she was experiencing. This was due to her unsecured immigration status and as a result, lack of stability with regards to her housing and financial situation. Aysha also had no family in this country and despite having some friends, remained someone who benefited from very limited emotional support in her day to day life.
Aysha has been receiving 1-1 counselling with our counsellor since November 2015. During therapy it became apparent that she was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, severe depression and anxiety.
Aysha’s asylum claim was refused in March 2016. In our opinion her lawyer did not represent her appropriately; therefore, in collaboration with another organisation that was supporting her in South London, we found a legal-aid lawyer who submitted a fresh claim for her. Our involvement in her case was substantial. Her counsellor was asked to write in-depth reports about her mental and emotional state and her lawyer decided it was important that her counsellor give her specialist opinion to the judge at the trial. We made sure that the whole process was safe for both the client and the counsellor.
We are glad to report that Aysha was given two-year leave to remain. Her lawyer is confident that her leave to remain will be renewed and she will be allowed to stay in the UK indefinitely. The judge saw her case as trafficking (internal) and stated that her going back to her country was at risk of being trafficked again. Our client took some time to realise that her ordeal was over and, once she got the official written decision from the judge, she organised a big party to celebrate the good news with all the people that supported her.
We assisted a refugee from Iran whose original Asylum & Humanitarian Protection claim based on his Bahai faith was refused in April 2007, but allowed at appeal on both bases in August 2007. Unfortunately due to his serious mental health problems he failed to subsequently apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain on completion of 5 years as a Refugee and was therefore a person unlawfully present in the UK and unable to access benefits or work. Mizra's mental health was continuing to suffer as result of the uncertainties in his life. We assisted him to make an out of time application for Indefinite Leave to Remain which relied in large part on an expert report from the doctor treating his mental health conditions which were diagnosed as delusional disorder. He had been admitted to a mental health unit previously with psychotic symptoms.
The doctor gave details of his medical history, the treatment being given to him, effect on his mental health if his application were to be refused and future prognosis if treatment were to be stopped or appropriate treatment not given if he were to be returned to Iran.
This evidence was important both in making the case to the Home Office that Indefinite Leave to Remain should be granted and why it was not applied for earlier. The application was successful after a significant delay. We ourselves have seen his improved mental health and his improved well-being. We have also helped him to apply for a travel document to allow him to visit his daughter who is currently residing in Europe. He was granted this just recently and is very grateful for the help and support he received from LRMN.
Fatma’s husband had been active in the Gambian opposition for over 20 years and already had to claim asylum in the UK in 1995. He returned to Gambia once he thought it was safe. Until 2011 it was. One day Fatma came home to an empty home: Neighbours informed her that government forces were looking for her husband and family. Fatma immediately fled the country, claimed asylum shortly after and gave birth to her third daughter in October 2011 in the UK. Her asylum claim was refused by the Home Office and dismissed by the First Tier Tribunal. After being adjourned it was finally allowed by the Upper Tribunal on the grounds that her daughter who was born in the UK would be at real risk of Female Genital Mutilation if she were to be returned to Gambia. She was granted Refugee Status in March 2013.
Not knowing if her husband was still alive and where he was, Fatma was on her own in the UK with an infant. She had to go through the Asylum Screening Interviews speaking no English. Fatma states that she told the truth at all times during her asylum claim but she was told to be inconsistent. Unfortunately, the dates of births of her three remaining children in Gambia were not recorded properly. Fatma believes, she was poorly translated and the information was not read back to her to confirm them properly.
In 2013, Fatma’s sister made contact with her missing husband who had fled to Senegal. At last her husband and her youngest daughter were allowed to join her in the UK in February 2014. In the meantime, Elena her oldest daughter born in 1995 turned 18 years old. When her mother had to flee, she was part of the family unit. Since Elena was not allowed to come to the UK under the strict regulation under Rule 352D of HC395, we were looking for an exception according to the Home Office. During the process Fatma was still going to school whilst being supported by her aunt. Though Elena was only 16 when her mother fled, she was not allowed to join her family in the UK. There is also another child of Fatma still in the Gambia. The family is still apart.
*All of the names in these case studies have been changed to protect our clients' anonymity