20 Jan 2021
In Northern Ireland, there are around 50 individuals at any one time who are destitute because of their asylum status (NICRAS). This means that they have no adequate accommodation, are unable to meet their other essential living needs, and have no means to do so. They can end up in extremely vulnerable situations with no support.
Despite their own difficult circumstances, some of these destitute asylum seekers are actively engaged in supporting others in their community. To recognise the public spirit and generosity of these individuals we have awarded £4,500 through our annual Destitute Asylum Seekers awards, awarding nine individuals £500 each to support them with essential living needs such as food, heat and clothes.
Amir Atta, recipient of the Destitute award.
“I have been living in Northern Ireland for 19 years and have been destitute for 17 years, without support from the home office. I have been living in East Belfast Mission homeless hostel where I volunteer in their coffee shop and restaurant, unfortunately, due to covid volunteering hours have been reduced. Due to my status, I am unable to work in Northern Ireland which makes life very difficult. However, I am determined to keep active helping other asylum seekers in many ways such as, to interpret with their lawyers, sometimes with their doctors, in hospitals, housing, and the other help they need.
“I will spend my award on clothing, especially warm winter clothes and shoes. This money will allow me to buy fresh nutritious and Halal food to keep my body and mind healthy. I will purchase a tablet to help me study and improve my English language, using apps like Skype and email to keep connected with friends, organisations, and other important agencies. Enabling me to socialise with my friends and avoid loneliness and stress where possible.”
“I am sharing my story as I need the public to know how long I have been a destitute asylum seeker and I do not know how long I will be in this situation I am living in”.