ASSIST Sheffield

Challenging asylum destitution

Peter Eggington, ASSIST host

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 09:19 -- Cath Baldwin

A guy came to talk to us at church about hosting for ASSIST, and I thought “I’ve got a spare room, it’s full of junk at the minute”, and it was at the back of my mind for quite some time – “tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow”. My grandson stays sometimes so we had to do a bit of juggling, but once that was sorted I got in touch with them. It’s fairly basic; a bed and a chair, a wardrobe.

That was about two years ago, and since then I’ve had two people. A guy came last May and stayed till November, and then an Iranian lad came in February and literally just left last week, so just two quite long ones.

Both of them were so grateful that they bent over backwards to help out, do jobs, clean up after themselves and what have you. It’s not been a problem. They’ve both been really appreciative of the stability. Omar should hear by the end of this month whether he’s staying or not, but it looks promising.

I buy food with the money that ASSIST give me but they come and go at different times from when I’ve come and gone, so sometimes we eat together, sometimes they sort themselves out, bit relaxed really, whatever seems appropriate. I’ve not had any problem at all. If there’s been anything, ASSIST were always really supportive.

It’s just a pleasure having someone around really, comparing typical English things with typical things from where they’ve come from, and seeing your own existence in a new light, I suppose, because you do just take things for granted, don’t you?

We’ve gone out to Derbyshire and things like that, into the Peak District, just walking. I remember we were walking through Eccleshall Woods and he was just fascinated because there’s nothing like that in Iran, it’s much greener than most of Iran, so you see these things through fresh eyes with someone who’s not seen it before.

And geography! You see where they come from and put it into context. They’re really interesting people with stories to tell, and you sort of see things from a different perspective and you understand the politics of where they’ve come from and all this kind of stuff.

Language is a funny one. I was driving with Omar last winter when he moved in, and we were talking about English weather and how changeable it is, and I said “is it sunny in Iran?” and he looked at me puzzled and he said “no, Shia!” So there’s lots of things like that; it’s a good laugh.

They’ve both been really good relationships, I’m still in contact with the first lad, and I’m sure I’ll stay in touch with the guy who’s just moved out because he’s a really interesting bloke and he’s started coming to church every week, he’s part of the congregation now, so yeah, I’ll keep in touch with him I’m sure.

I can see why some people would be cautious, but I wasn’t particularly scared of the situation, and it’s been good fun. It seems a very natural, easy thing to do. It’s been a pleasure. Once I’ve cleaned up the bedroom we’ll start again…