The asylum process can be scary, stressful and confusing – especially if you’re a single parent trying to do the best for your children in an unfamiliar country. Our Family Rights Service supports families through their asylum journey. We help parents and children to make sense of their new environment and rebuild their lives in Scotland.

Raim* is a single mother who fled Pakistan with her 6-year-old son, Azeeb*, after surviving a serious sexual assault. When she arrived in Scotland, she was depressed, traumatised and kept awake by nightmares. Raim knew very little about the asylum system and had no friends or family to turn to for support. Lockdown made these feelings of loneliness and isolation even worse. An adviser from our Family Service guided Raim through the asylum process and supported her at every step along the way.

Legal support

We helped Raim to prepare for interviews with the Home Office and worked with her solicitor to track down documents that would help her case. We made sure that she was in regular contact with her solicitor and understood what was happening with her claim.

Welfare and access to education

Families seeking asylum receive an allowance of just £5 a day per person and often struggle to cover their basic needs. Raim worried about making ends meet, which added to her feelings of depression and anxiety. We put her in contact with food banks and local charities that could provide clothing and other essentials. Our adviser helped Raim to register Azeeb in school, where he is now thriving. She also received support to apply for free school meals and a clothing grant to cover the cost of his uniform.

Health care and psychological support

Raim was prescribed medication by her GP but she didn’t feel that it was working. We referred her to a specialist mental health service for people living with trauma. She began receiving weekly online therapy sessions. We also made her aware of specialist services – like Rape Crisis Scotland and LifeLink – and the support they provide. Now that Raim has a better understanding of the options available to her, she feels more in control of her treatment and is playing an active role in her recovery.

Making social connections

Social networks play an important role in helping people to recover from trauma. We linked Raim with local community groups where she could meet other mums in a similar situation and feel less isolated. She has joined a number of women’s organisations and a sewing group where she’s making friends and learning new skills. Azeeb has also been attending online events run by our Family Service. This gives Raim some time off from parenting, while he has fun with other children.

A holistic approach

We worked closely with health services, legal representatives, charity organisations and local community groups to provide Raim with a support package tailored to her personal needs. Thanks to specialist therapy and the support of her friends, Raim’s mental health is improving and her confidence has grown. She recently received a positive decision about her asylum claim. Raim and Azeeb are now rebuilding their lives in their new community.

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*Names have been changed to protect identities 

Rachel Lamb
Author: Rachel Lamb