When you come out in the smoking area, it’s just a tiny place and everyone is in there. And above is a net, so instead of looking at the sky, you see a net.
I felt very uncomfortable there, it was not a good place for me, so I asked for a transfer and I was sent to another one in the Isle of Portland, Dorset.
There was this guy I knew in one of the detention centres called Lucky Mo. His cell was next door and we were very close. They took him three or four times to the airport, but then never sent him back. They always take him to the airport and bring him back to detention. It’s like, “Pack your stuff and say bye-bye to your family,” and he’s thinking “I’m not gonna see them for a long while.” And they do it again and again, making him weak, making Lucky Mo depressed and sad inside.
People inside have lots of things to say. We all have ways of expressing ourselves and we feel different pain, which we need to release. Some people have their missus leave them, some people lose their kids, some people lose all their assets and the goodness they’ve built for themselves. They end up in detention. So they want to sing – they want to sing from their heart what they want the world to hear.
Hear Me Out is a project that takes music-making into immigration detention centres. In the sessions people are allowed to release their feelings, their own way. You release your anger through your music. It lifts the strength. After I came out [of the detention centre], I decided to apply for a position and joined the charity’s board of trustees.
When I came out in 2018, they gave me a work permit with economic use, which is called the shortage occupation work permit [a government scheme giving migrants work visas for occupations they deem in short supply of staff]. But you have to earn like £33,000 or £34,000 a year. And you have to do specific jobs, which I wasn’t qualified to do, like being a doctor or an engineer.
So now I’m here waiting for the work permit and waiting for them to make confirmation of my settlement status.
I have a wife, who I have a son with, and I have two stepdaughters. I also have a daughter from a previous relationship. So my family life is here in the UK.
Everyone can take certain things to a certain limit. But I’m a healthy man and I can’t work to support my family. Imagine how that makes me feel? It’s not right. I feel I’m not counted as a human. And when is all this going to end?
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