‘ Would he disapprove of my single pagan life ?’: me and my Syrian refugee lodger
He has no home and merely the clothes he stands up in. She has a spare chamber. This is what happened when Yasser and Helen moved in together, as determined through both their eyes
You are not going to like me saying this, my pa suggested, but there is a requirement get a lock on your bedroom entrance and a lock on your shower entrance. Men can get extremely frisky when they are away from their wives.
I wheeled my sees, hung up and panicked. Id rung my parents to tell them that Yasser, a Syrian refugee, was coming to live with me while he arranged for his wife and baby to assemble him in Britain. I was a little nervous about these agreements, but of all the many things perturbing me would he disapprove of my single pagan lifestyle? Could I carry on having bacon butties at the weekend? Should I edit my glass cupboard? the possibility of going molested by my lodger had yet to occur to me.
I first had lunch with Yasser one day in August, after a mutual pal in Turkey told me he had arrived in Manchester and “havent had” teammates. She didnt tell me he was Syrian, or how he had reached our rainy island. So I was gobsmacked when, in extremely broken English, he told me of his 37 -day odyssey across district and ocean. He had voyaged in the various regions of the Mediterranean in an inflatable barge in the dead of night, even though he cant swim; walked from Greece to Macedonia, and swept Europe until he reached the Jungle in Calais, where he rushed on trucks for six nighttimes before attaining it to England hidden in the back of a lorry. After 17 hours packed between chests of playthings, he slammed on the door. The truck driver was ferocious: he would face a PS2, 000 fine were their own borders police to discover his human cargo. Yasser scarpered. He wasnt sure he was even in England until a gondola legislated him driving on the left. He trod to the nearest filling station and asked them to call the police. His new life had begun.
I wondered how I could help him. He was living on PS5 a daytime given to them by Serco, the outsourcing busines contracted by the Home office to handle asylum applications. While Yasser waited, he couldnt take paid drive and was living in a Serco house off the Curry Mile with another five asylum seekers: Syrians, Eritreans, a guy from Sudan. I asked if he fancied seeing round to help me row wallpaper on the bank holiday weekend. He concurred, but then I had to go and cover the world gravy wrestling championships in Bacup( try explaining that one to someone whose maternal language isnt English ), so left him to it.
When I got back, he had almost finished. We had an clumsy dinner together, then I tried to give him some coin. Yasser searched appalled. No , no, he suggested. I dont want coin. I miss friends.
Two days later, three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Greece. The climate in Britain changed. Abruptly the kind of newspapers who usually guide legends about immigrants dining swans started picturing tendernes. David Cameron agreed to resettle 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees and I offered my spare chamber to Yasser.
He was slow to accept, but before long, he was granted asylum and a five-year visa. We celebrated with a sickly patty he bought from a Pakistani baker on the Curry Mile( three days of his daily adjustment ). He showed me the character substantiating his refugee status: he had 28 daylights before he would be evicted from the Serco house, and less than a month to get a national assurance figure, sign on at the jobcentre and find somewhere brand-new to live. A tall order for a Brit, let alone a Syrian with ropey English and no coin for a deposit.
A few daylights before his ouster, Yasser texted, asking if he could stay until his wife and baby arrived. He had been to see a dwelling polouse and was told that, as a single 34 -year-old man with no dependent progenies living in the UK, he was low priority. His dwelling advantage of around PS280 a month would treat a chamber in a shared live with a private landlord( no chance of that, without a deposit) or a lieu in a homeless hostel, where he was likely to share a chamber with alcoholics and drug addicts.
I picked him up from the Serco house a few weeks later. All he had was a scratty duvet and pillow in a carrier bag, and a small rucksack. When he unpacked, I saw how little he owned: one jumper, one shirt, a pair of jeans, two vests, two pairs of underpants; it was what he had been wearing where reference is hid in the truck, plus what he had been given since his arrival.