“We came to the UK and claimed asylum at Heathrow Airport. We got on a plane from Pakistan. We were sent to Leeds for six months. My wife and I and our two children aged 10 and 11. We flew from Pakistan because there was a problem with some of the people there because of my beliefs. I am a Christian.
We were in an Induction Centre in Leeds where we were educated about the system. Housing etc was worked out for us. So, after six weeks we were sent to Hull. Then Asylum Seekers had no choice in where they went to live. Initially we were housed in a flat in Coltman Street which was near a Church of England. We enjoyed living there for 18 months. Chris Hembury was the first person we met. (Hull Youth for Christ).
It was dark in the Winter. We looked for a church- St Matthew’s. When we went in, Chris Hembury was in there. We had a good relationship with him and the Baptist and Catholic Churches in the area.
Our children were in schools, and we were all learning how the system worked and we improved our English. We then received leave To Remain in the country until September 2006. After that we needed to work. So, we went on Job Seeker’s Allowance and started to look for jobs. I did several jobs to improve my confidence, education, learning etc. My wife gained a job in the Council in 2006 . We were going around helping various organisations as volunteers as well as being in full time work. We were missing family and friends at home.”
“I got this current job at Open Doors, based in Princes Avenue Methodist Church.. I enjoy it. I have taken the time to learn. The job was advertised. I used to come to Open Doors as a client and I went to different churches to give my testimony. Sylvia Usher took me to several churches. I met lots of people from different churches. Someone suggested to me that I apply for the job at Open Doors. I was attracted to the job. I was doing similar work back home in Pakistan. (Education in Community- to help people stand on their own feet.). I also believed that I had the skills and experience, had volunteered and had been through the Asylum process. I got familiar with the Home Office systems etc. You learn a lot when you go through something”
“ I enjoy what I am doing now. I am confident and know the job and am helping some people who are going through asylum. There are difficult issues and I have empathy and sympathy with them because of the difficult time they are going through. I have managed to get resources for the project and develop it. I can also look after the family. I am happy with my contribution to the Project. I have brought experience, contacts, resources. If you get people from the big organisations, they say that Open Doors is the ‘jewel in the crown’. Secular organisations say that.”
“People recognise the work of Open Doors in a positive way. I am happy that the majority of our clients feel satisfied with the support we provide.
“We have 60/70 volunteers from differing backgrounds and skills. About 300 people are weekly coming through the door. Volunteers put in a real effort, time and resources and make a difference in peoples’ lives.”
Bashir is the first point of contact. He co-ordinates and passes on and/or delegates.
“There are many memorable things. So many good things. In this job, I have assisted people in difficult situations and sometimes have to say ‘no’ and may cause stress to them. When you work with people, it makes you happy.
Now, Hull is our home and we are concerned about the local community and its issues and as a family, we try to contribute to the community and the city. We want to see the community safe, free etc. We are trying to contribute and are involved e.g. Interfaith Forum and local politics. We feel part of the community. It affects us directly/indirectly and therefore have to say something. So, I encourage Asylum seekers to be a part of the community. Help them not to be isolated and afraid. We have to show unity and help people to integrate. Churches and other organisations help people to integrate into communities. That is an important role for Open Doors. Sometimes we are invited and accepted by some people/organisations e.g. Churches and secular organisations. Open Doors is involved in a lot of things that help our clients to rebuild their life”
Bashir is happy in Hull. It is important to Bashir that Hull is a City of Sanctuary. This and a Foodbank was brought to Hull by Open Doors. They were the first people to bring this to Hull. Through Open Doors, Bashir has made himself known to the Church Networks. He is known to people in key positions e.g. Bishop of Hull, The Arch Deacon. The project is also respected by the Lord Mayor etc. The project has helped with other organisations and has a healthy relationship with the Church of England including Archbishop Sentamu and the Catholic Bishop.
Bashir feels that Bishop Alison is very down to earth, humble, brilliant. She gets involved with people. Bashir is also involved with the Bishop of Middlesbrough, Interfaith and inter church networks. He is also involved with the Diocesan Caritas Board. The previous week to this, interview, he had been to see the Bishop of Middlesbrough. He is happy, because Open Doors is doing good work.
“Not everything at Open Doors is about food parcels. It’s about helping people rebuild their lives, educating them through different activities and helping them to become a good local citizen/representative. To assist them to get into their communities, whatever they are doing. For example:. One lady who had been helped in the past came into Open Doors and gave a financial donation. “
“We are also working with the Syrians. They are coming through the Asylum route plus Gateway. We have 60 Syrians, mainly Muslim.”
“We love living here and have a good social network”