In Nottingham there are a number of support groups and charities that play a vital role in the lives of hundreds of refugees like Hassan Mahamoud. According to the Office of National Statistics, 35,099 asylum claims were made in the UK during the year ending March 2020.
As a child, Hassan Mahamoud fled from his conflict and war-stricken country Sudan, crossing the border into neighbouring country Chad where he lived for 15 years.
The situation in Sudan remains largely unchanged. Even after the longest recorded civil war of 22 years ended, genocide and civil unrest continues.
Video: Hassan explaining that he is not a refugee by choice.
The United Nations define a refugee as someone who has fled war, violence, conflict or persecution and has crossed an international border to find safety in another country.
Hassan’s journey was long, difficult and dangerous but now he is settled in Nottingham with hopes to finish college and go to university.
“crossing the Mediterranean is the worst part of my life, that was really a scary one”
Hassan Mahamoud, Sudanese refugee
In 2016 Hassan moved on from Chad to Libya, but it was not safe there either so he made a difficult decision. He paid 1000 Libyan Dinar and boarded a boat.
After four hours at sea, cramped up in an inflatable boat with 130 other refugees, a rescue boat found them and took them on board to shore in Italy. He said: “crossing the Mediterranean is the worst part of my life, that was really a scary one”.
He and the others were often left destitute in their search for asylum. The UK government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy makes the asylum-seeking process tough. Solicitor Deirdre Sheahan says: “the first stumbling block is a person trying to proof what their nationality is”.
Audio: Paragon Law’s Asylum and Human Rights Law Solicitor Deirdre Sheahan briefly explains the asylum process.
From Rome Hassan was either misguided or directed through different towns like Ventimiglia, Cannes and Paris. Then in Calais he and a friend who sought shelter from the rain got locked in the back of a lorry that was heading to England.
The driver discovered them on arrival in Dover and phoned the police, who took them to a police station where they started the process of claiming asylum.
Hassan was then transferred to Birmingham and then to Nottingham where he was given a place to live with other asylum seekers waiting for their cases to be heard, and after waiting six months, he was granted leave to remain.
In Nottingham, through the charities Refugees at Home and Refugee Forum he met his host family and received support to help him integrate into a society where asylum seekers and refugees are welcomed.
Hassan now has a place of his own, a job and he is in college, an achievement which he is very proud of.
Video: Documentary Trailer – From Sudan to Nottingham
The documentary of Hassan’s journey called: ‘From Sudan to Nottingham, Hassan’s journey’ will be available on YouTube very soon.