I arrived in the UK on 30 December 2019 through a was very difficult journey, I did sleep under open sky with no food for several nights. I did not realized through which places I came through, as I did not know any foreign language and was unable to see any place while being always hidden in Lorries. I was like blind, deaf and dump in the same time, I didn’t see anything, I didn’t understand any sound and I didn’t talk to anyone along the way.
I first arrived in Duve, and then was put in a hotel around somewhere in Liverpool for almost 20 days and after that shifted to a hostel in Liverpool where I stayed for around two weeks.
Finally I arrived in Lancaster in the month of February 2020. A friend of mine who I met in Liverpool hostel was allocated to Lancaster before me and then next was me informed for moving to Lancaster. I called him to ask about Lancaster, he was quite negative about Lancaster and explained that “Lancaster is a small rural town with no real life in it, here is no any refugee and/or asylum seeker, and I cannot find anyone to support me” – it was introduced to me a dead city!
Next day I arrived at my accommodation in Lancaster, I found other asylum seekers from my country
in the same house and everyone was quite happy for being in Lancaster. They told me there “are
Charities that support asylum seekers and refugees” – one named “Global Link”. They also added
that the staffs of Global Link are so kind and always cooperative. I asked my housemates to take me to Global Link. I was brought on a Tuesday; I had my lunch, talked to many asylums seekers and some volunteers. The first person I met from Global Link was Gisela. It was really a nice start in Lancaster.
As I had no English, of course, I was very worried where to go and how to start with English language classes, just after an hour on the same first day at the lunch drop-in I was referred to English class. My next worry was about my commute to classes, Global Link drop-ins and city centre. A woman came closer to me and asked me through a Global Link’s interpreter if I was a new arrival and if needed any bike. I immediately replied, yes, “I am a new asylum seeker and desperately in need of a bike”.
It was really an amazing day for me. I called to my friend and told him about all that day’s achievements and added that “Lancaster is not like how you explained to me”. It was a surprise for him and asked me I can take him one day to Global Link too. In fact he was living a bit out of Lancaster and did know about all these supports for asylum seekers and refugees in Lancaster.
I was farmer in Iran; I was always missing farming life in the UK. One day I came across Zia at one of the Global Link’s drop-ins, who invited me to Claver Hill Farm for Sunday’s session. Since the first visit I have become the regular participant of Claver Hill project, where I am enjoying my time with gardening, chatting with people and learning from others.
I have been grown in rural area in Iran, where walking, cycling, horse riding and mountain climbing were our normal life routine. Global Link in particular Gisela has provided me with opportunities to enjoy and practice all mentioned hobbies in Lancaster. On this account I have travelled around the Lancaster a lot and got familiar with the Lancaster and surrounding areas’ natural conservations parks, touristic and historical places.
I have been also referred to Eggcup, which is quite interesting and new experience for me despite I belong to farming and engaged in food production from my childhood.
Global is the main connection point for my familiarity with any individual, family, organisation and activity in Lancaster. It gave me recognition, prestige and dignity. I have been referred to English classes, food bank, Claver Hill Community Farm, Eggcup etc. Once I wished to ride horses, Global Link has tried very hard to find a place for me in any stable. I wanted to have access to gym, but it was not possible without having a proper bank account. I requested Global Link and they provided me a letter which enabled me to open a bank account and then could purchase a gym membership.
I left my parents and siblings, relatives and friends and had to come somewhere I did not know their language culture and values, it was very difficult for me to tolerate with my severe homesickness. It was again Global Link and Gisela who has placed me in their family. I am a member of Gisela’s family, the parents are my parent and their children are my siblings. Whenever I have time and would like, I called on them, we come together, we walk, and we cycle and chat. It is helping me a lot in learning English language, culture and locality. I have extended my networking through this family and am friends of their friends now. It is my family and it has reduced my homesickness to a tolerable level.
The first time I came to the UK I could not speak any English but now due to regular interaction with Gisela’s family, now I can speak a lot of English and have no any difficulty anymore.
I don’t have any single bad memory from the Lancaster. The sweetest memory I have noticed so far is of the day when I was taken by Gisela’s family for mountain climbing. As I mentioned, I have been grown in a rural area by a farming family where I was always with parents and siblings grazing and riding horses in the vicinities of mountains. It gave me genuine feeling of being at home with my parents and siblings. I really enjoyed that day and could bring me out of shock.
If there wasn’t Global Link and/or Gisela, I don’t think so I would have all these opportunities and happiness. If there weren’t all these engagements, definitely I would have very bad mental health condition which may trigger me to engage in harmful things such drugs, alcohol etc.
I am thankful of Global Link, its staff, particularly Gisela and her sweet family!