Ayeza's story: I've spent 10 years feeling unsafe
Ayeza* has spent 10 years fighting for her stay, we spoke to her about her experiences.
"10 years ago my husband was murdered. I had three young children and we weren’t safe anymore, so I came to the UK to seek asylum. I didn’t know anything about the process but I heard that the UK was a safe place for women.
"When we arrived we were sent to Liverpool and put in temporary accommodation. We were there for 22 days. It was a horrible experience. We were then sent to Manchester. I struggled to find my community, people who spoke the same language as me, so I had so many barriers. It was a very difficult time.
"I was put onto the fast track asylum process but after 3 days I was refused. My solicitor was in Liverpool so I had to travel there with my three children. But when I got there he told me that he wouldn’t take my appeal case because it was very poor. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know anyone or any organisations that could help me.
"Then somebody told me to contact Refugee Action to get help with a solicitor. The next day I went to see them but my 1st appeal court hearing was very close and I was unable to get a solicitor in time. I was very worried but I went to court and asked the judge if he could give me more time to find a solicitor and come back. But he said no, we are here to listen to your story so you’ll tell us now.
"I had kept everything from when my husband was murdered, the post-mortem reports and newspaper clippings. So I told them everything. Not only was I in danger from the men who killed my husband but I was also fearful for my daughter's life. After my husband died his brother and his sister were fighting over my daughter as they wanted to set up an arranged marriage with their sons. When we left my country my brother-in-law lied to the police and said that my daughter was promised to him, but she wasn’t. My daughter would have no rights if she returned to our country.
"After a year I received a letter telling me that they refused me and that they had sent me a refusal letter two weeks after the court case. But I hadn’t received anything and I found out they sent my letter to the wrong address. The Home Office called me and said I needed to go to Liverpool so they could give me the letter in person. When they handed me the letter, they told me I had no choice, I would have to go back.
"So I put in a new application, they refused. I put in another application and they refused again. Many, many times I applied but they still refuse my claim. I had to sell all my gold jewellery to pay solicitor fees but I couldn't go back. My life and my children’s lives would be in danger if I went back.
"I am educated, I don’t want benefits, I want to work. I want to pay taxes. My children have their education and they are very bright, they want to work. It is very hard.
"Last year I put in a human rights application but they still refused me. I was granted a right of appeal but at the hearing the judge told me that my solicitor had only sent them my bundle two hours before. The judge didn’t have enough time to go through my case. My solicitor had made a huge mistake and I lost my appeal.
"Since then, the solicitor has advised me to put in separate applications for my children now they are over 18. After they are granted their interview, they will then put in an application for me. So now we are in a limbo waiting for the results.
"I have spent 10 years not feeling safe, fearful that I will have to go back to my country and our lives will be at risk. Sometimes I just go to the toilet and cry. I don’t want my children to see me like that.
*We have used a pseudonym to protect her identity.
We're want to create a fund that women fighting for their stay can access to provide essential support. This could be anything from solicitor fees, travel costs or wellbeing support. Help us create this vital lifeline.