ASSIST Sheffield

Challenging asylum destitution

Meet Asefa

‘I came to Sheffield via Ethiopia, Sudan, Italy and France. My homelessness in France was particularly difficult. When I got to Sheffield, the Eritrean community told me of ASSIST and how the people might help improve my situation. There were also some Eritrean volunteers in ASSIST.

‘Before I found ASSIST, I had absolutely nothing. Things have changed now. Now my health problems are being sorted out and my legal situation is moving forward. This is basically because I can have somewhere to sleep and enough to eat – ASSIST give me food bank vouchers. If I go there just once I can eat for fifteen days.

‘It used to be the case that depression made me think too long about the problems in my life. The days are so long and difficult when you’re homeless and you can send yourself crazy with your worries. You get obsessed with whether or not you will eat tomorrow, or whether or not you will have somewhere to sleep tomorrow, so much so that you just have no space left in your head to think about anything else. I also have a son here. I want to improve the conditions of my life for his sake. I want to take him to places. ASSIST is helping me move my case forward so I’ll be able to make him proud of me. Already I have had contact with a solicitor.

‘Before ASSIST, people who knew I was homeless wouldn’t even say “hi” to me. Now I have a place to sleep. I can eat, cook my own food, wash myself, use the buses every day. I still have almost no money, but I have this support and a place to go every night. I used to sleep in the train station.’