David fled to the UK in 1999. He felt that his Christian religion and political leanings meant his home country of Iran was no longer safe for him. However his application for asylum was declined by the Home Office. Applying for a right to remain in the country and appealing decisions is very expensive; David soon found all the money he arrived with had gone.
“I was not deported but this left me with no access to public funds and no right to work,” said David. “I couldn’t go back to Iran for life threatening reasons and so in 2003 I became homeless.
“For 11 years, I lived on the street. I tried many different solicitors with my case but nothing came from it apart from using up all my money.”
In 2013 David came to the Centre and met with Margaret in our Immigration Advice team. Margaret is particularly knowledgeable on Iranian immigration cases, which can be very complex. She took on his case and got a new application started straight away.
Immigration cases were previously covered by Legal Aid assistance but this provision was cut in 2013. Since then we have seen a sharp increase in the number of people coming to the Centre needing our help. The home office application fees alone are over £600, but putting in an application requirse legal advice that could cost thousands. Covering such costs is impossible for someone who is homeless or destitute. Thanks to your supporter the Centre is able to provide this professional legal advice at no cost to the clients, one of the very few organisations to do so.
“Before [the cuts], Legal Aid would have been there to support someone in David’s position,” said Margaret. “These are the most vulnerable people and they don’t have access to legal help. They are dealing with a double problem, the societal dislocation of homelessness plus not having any documentation. They are completely isolated.”
David’s life was full of fear and uncertainty for such a long time, but after coming to the Cardinal Hume Centre it finally started to turn around.
“I was so encouraged and began to have hope again that finally I would be able to have a new life. Margaret worked extremely hard and kept me up to date with how things were going. It was an anxious time but finally in February 2014 she called me to say I had the right to remain that I had only been dreaming of. A couple of months later I was able to move into some temporary accommodation and finally come off the street.”
Margaret had been able to secure discretionary leave to remain for David, but his future is still uncertain, as Margaret explains: “He will have to make another application in three years and may well need help from the Centre to do so. The key thing is he is now documented, putting him on a much better pathway.”
David is so full of gratitude that he wrote an open letter to the Centre that he wanted to share with you:
“Without Maggie and the Cardinal Hume Centre I would still be on the street, still be feeling hopeless and despairing with no future. I cannot thank them enough for all they have done and that I now have a new life with hope and expectation for the future. Thank you.”