Arash* fled from Iran 21 years ago and remembers just how difficult it was as a destitute asylum seeker with nowhere to live.
“I slept outside many times when I was homeless,” he says. “Every night different places, different people – I don’t know them and they don’t know me.
“Friends of mine told me about Action Foundation and they helped me, gave me shelter.”
Before coming to our charity, he was reliant on organisations offering emergency overnight accommodation, but now he shares a comfortable house with two other men.
To begin with, Arash, who is 55, lived in one of Action Foundation’s Housing project properties which provide supported accommodation to people who have been refused asylum and have no recourse to public funds.
As well as giving Arash a roof over his head, Action Foundation also provided a support worker who helped him engage with legal representation in relation to his asylum claim.
Once he was granted leave to remain in the UK in August 2021, like all newly recognised refugees he was given only 28 days to find secure housing and an income. Thankfully, Action Foundation was able to find Arash a place within its Letting project.
The charity’s Letting properties belong to philanthropic landlords who rent them out through Action Foundation.
Photo courtesy of The Comfrey Project
Arash’s situation is a good example of the difference a safe, warm home with support workers on hand, can make to someone’s life.
For example, it means he has been able to take up a place at Newcastle College where he is studying hard to improve his English. Arash also volunteers with another refugee charity, the Comfrey Project in Gateshead, where he grows vegetables in their community garden and takes part in other life-enhancing activities.
His support worker, Marian Armour said: “It’s great having Arash as a resident with Action Foundation. He’s worked extremely hard for a long time to survive really difficult circumstances in the UK. Despite this, he still has the motivation to succeed in the UK and is incredibly helpful towards other people.
“He uses the support he gets from Action Foundation to increase his understanding of systems and processes in the UK, such as navigating Universal Credit, the admin of setting up a bank account and preparing to move in to an independent tenancy”.
Arash says it’s easy to underestimate the importance of having an address to call your own:
“Everyone ask about address – Home Office, college. You need an address. Being homeless is very bad for your mental health and depression. When I got my home, now I feel more confident. For me, it’s perfect.”
- Arash is a pseudonym to protect our client’s identity