Rising food prices and soaring energy bills are affecting us all. But for Comfort, who is seeking refugee protection in Scotland, this winter will be a fight for survival.
Comfort is one of our amazing volunteers. She came to Scotland in search of safety in 2019. Three years on, she is still waiting for the Home Office to process her asylum claim.
As part of our Winter Appeal, we spoke to Comfort to find out more about the challenges people seeking safety in Scotland are facing.
When Comfort arrived in Scotland in search of safety, she was pregnant. Now she has a baby to care for. Like every parent, Comfort wants her young son to be safe, comfortable and happy. But she struggles to afford the essentials that every child needs to thrive.
As an asylum seeker, Comfort is entitled to £40.85 per week from the Home Office to pay for food, warm clothes, travel and other basic essentials. That is equivalent to just £5.84 a day. Even before the cost of living crisis hit, it wasn’t enough.
Comfort told us: “We’re suffering. People can’t afford to buy food. How do you expect people to live on just £5 a day? I don’t know how people manage to do it. Personally, I struggle with that.
“Right now, so many things are really expensive. When you go to the supermarket, everything has gone way high. Like, even eggs are really, really expensive. Even for my child, I usually buy him snacks and yogurt, now I can’t afford everything I need.
“I’ve been trying to help myself with foodbanks. Some charities around me have been really helping me with food. But I’m just thinking about how others are surviving.”
People seeking safety in Scotland often live on the outskirts of towns and cities and depend on public transport to attend vital appointments with doctors, lawyers and Home Office officials, go to the shops, or meet with friends. But in Glasgow, where Comfort lives, all-day bus travel costs £5.
Comfort said: “You only have £5 a day to eat and to transport yourself to wherever you need to go. It means you have to choose between going out or getting yourself something to eat.”
No one should have to choose between putting food on the table or buying a bus ticket so they can make it to vital appointments. Sadly, that is the daily reality for Comfort, and so many of the men, women and children we support.
Although she is struggling herself, Comfort told us that people seeking safety who are housed in hotels (and entitled to just £8.24 a week) face even greater challenges.
She said: “I find it difficult to think of how they’re surviving living in just one room. Not being able to cook. Not being able to live as a family. It’s ridiculous for people with kids to be living in a hotel. It’s really hard.”