Carolina: From Strength to Strength

We began representing Carolina* in approximately mid-2019, after her asylum claim had been refused by the Home Office. She was later dropped by her previous representatives, as it was their opinion that her case was not strong enough to merit legal aid.

Carolina, unrepresented and with the likely and intimidating scenario of having to appear before a judge and the Home Office on her own, was urgently referred to ourselves by her friend.

Taken on by one of our lawyers, it was a very complex case with two countries involved, and on face value appeared very difficult to win. When we first met Carolina, she was visibly stressed and anxious. She found it extremely difficult to speak about certain aspects of her case, so we endeavored to make her feel as safe and comfortable as possible.

In her country of origin, Carolina had been a victim of serious and appalling levels of domestic violence at the hands of her family and husband, to whom she was forcibly married. In fear for their lives, she and her new partner fled to another country on a different continent with their child.

Having lived in the second country for four years, Carolina claimed asylum here in the UK on the basis that a family member of her previous partner had tracked her and her children down. She was at the time in the UK visiting a sister when her partner became aware that individuals were asking around the community for her – he instantly telephoned Carolina to warn her and advised, for the sake of her and her children’s lives, that she not return.

We were able to help Carolina win her case by carefully preparing her appeal to the Tribunal, including obtaining an expert psychiatric report and considerable country and medical evidence. Our lawyer who prepared the case also represented her at the Tribunal. We were all so relieved when the judge granted her refugee status.

Not unlike many refugees, Carolina is a very skilled and able woman. She is a trained nurse, and had worked as such before she arrived in the UK. She has looked after her three young boys on her own here for nearly a year and a half, an incredible testament to her strength.

Since obtaining refugee status approximately 6 months ago, Carolina has began to build her life here. At first, it was difficult, moving into a small house that at the time was not big enough for her and her three children. Having to raise them without her partner being here with her has also taken its toll.

However, she has since been able move to a new house, which she tells us is much more suitable. Now she has a garden, her three children are able to play and release some energy, giving her a well earned break.

Carolina looks forward to training as a nurse again, and by following her natural caring instincts, is currently doing her best to support an elderly, disabled man who lived above her in her previous accommodation.

Her three young boys are in school, enjoying their lives and are looking forward to life here. She tells us that they are involved in lots of after school clubs and other activities. It is wonderful to hear, as the impact an asylum claim can have on children is very rarely discussed.

A particularly heart wrenching moment in Carolina’s case was when one of her children asked her, during her ongoing asylum claim, why she does not smile anymore. Thankfully, Carolina can now smile and bring up her children without fear here in the UK.

Asylum Justice are currently preparing a Family Reunion application for Carolina, to bring her partner over to the UK. This is often the reality for refugees, arriving here without their family members, having to wait to be reunited. She remains in constant contact with her family and she tells us her children cannot wait for their father to join them.

We are the only charity in Wales that are able to do Family Reunion applications without any charge. Due to Family Reunion being no longer covered by legal aid, refugees in Wales must either come to us, prepare it themselves (despite it being a complex application), or pay solicitor fees they simply cannot afford.

Asylum Justice would like to thank Carolina for her patience and strength. In cases such as these, it is a privilege to be able to represent a strong, resilient and inspirational woman, such as Carolina.

*Please be aware we have not used the individual’s real name.