Tilal is a fully qualified Geologist from Sudan and arrived in the UK in July 2018 leaving behind him a wife and 3 young children aged 4, 6 and 8 years old. After 2 days in London, his first month was spent in Home Office accommodation in Wakefield before being dispersed to Home Office accommodation in Newcastle, where he shared a house with 2 other men, from Egypt and Yemen.  Fortunately, all were Arabic speakers so communication within the house was good.

Tilal wished to waste no time in further improving his knowledge of the English language and Googled English language classes for Asylum Seekers in the city and immediately found Action Language. He contacted the office and attended an assessment and found everyone so helpful from day one (10th September 2018).

They were all very supportive and friendly and gave me such a warm welcome. This was my first dealings with anyone outside of the Home Office experience. It helped me become more trusting of other people and gave me comfort too. I started lessons and classes and gained a lot from the teachers, especially Libby – I learnt a lot from her; how to integrate within the British community, what you can and can’t say, what is informal and formal”, he explained.

It didn’t take long for Action Language to see what a great volunteer Teaching Assistant Tilal would make and asked him if he would consider this role. He was delighted as could see other people in his class struggling and he wanted to help make it a bit easier for them and could use his Arabic to help explain some things. He started assisting in some of the beginner classes in October.

Before taking on this volunteer role, I thought that I wasn’t very patient and wouldn’t be a good teacher, but when they smiled and said thank you to me, that was the best bit and also I knew I was doing ok” Tilal explained.

Tilal encouraged his house mates to study at Action Language as well as lots of other people in the Sudanese community here in Newcastle. “My house mates were having problems with their English, not being able to express themselves even with a translator. I have seen so many learners develop their self confidence and trust in themselves and who are now able to go to the library, shops and their GP with confidence. I will continue to encourage other Sudanese to speak English and to also think about volunteering at Action Language. Two people that I introduced to Action Language are now Teaching Assistant volunteers and I am very proud of this legacy that I can give back to Action Foundation”, Tilal said.

The months spent waiting for a decision on his asylum application did take its toll on Tilal as he felt a lot of pressure upon him and lots of unanswered questions – would they accept his application?, would he have to appeal?, how long would it all take? Would he have the opportunity to work again?

It was on the 4th of January when Tilal received a letter from the Home Office to tell him the news that he had been praying for, Tilal had been granted leave to remain. “Now finally I can stay in the UK and start a new chapter in my life. It was the best news! Its weird waiting for news like this as it is such an important point in my life, it is a milestone. I felt overwhelmed, emotional and prayed to god to thank him, “he explained. Tilal called his mother, wife and friends, who are still in Sudan and all were very happy. What a fantastic way to start the New Year!

Tilal keeps in regular contact with his family using Whats App video and his children were so excited to see snow for the first time!

So, what’s next I asked Tilal and he explained that he is moving to the North West to be with friends in Liverpool in the spring and will start the process of beginning his new life. His friends are more than happy to help him to settle in and look for work, whilst he also applies for housing benefit and a suitable family home.  He will then start the process of applying for his wife and children to join him here in the UK.

Now I can start my new life. I can work, study, get a driving license, travel anywhere, which I have been prevented from doing for the past 7 months. I would like to enrol on a post graduate course in Manchester and get back into my profession,” said Tilal.

So, what does Tilal know about Liverpool? “Salah is an excellent player and I am a keen supporter of Liverpool FC! Just ask any Middle Eastern football fans and they will agree!” he added.

Tilal concluded,Thank you Action Foundation for helping people like me, refugees and asylum seekers. It is very noble work and all the people care about the problems and conflicts overseas and the need to seek safety in a safe country. It is one big family and I am very grateful to Action Language in particular. I would encourage others to come here as everyone is very helpful and friendly and they will help you.”