Carlos and Magdalena
Carlos and Magdalena* came from a country where gangs territorially control many neighbourhoods, making daily life dangerous and unpredictable. When the threat to their family became too great, from one day to the next they packed what they could and fled to the UK, where they claimed asylum and were dispersed to Wales.
“When we first got here, I remember when we were in the street one day and we heard the backfire of a car, and we ran into a nearby shop. It just sent us back to life in our home country when if you heard this sound, you would drop to the floor to avoid the bullets. Here we don’t have to worry about this anymore – we feel safe here.”
Carlos, Magdalena and their family soon started to feel at home in Wales and saw it as a place where they could have a fresh start.
However, while they had begun to sow seeds of a new life here their initial claims were rejected by the Home Office, and they found themselves heading for an appeal with no one to represent them. Their previous lawyer had said that they were no longer able to help them under legal aid. They felt very alone and as if there was no one to help them. That is, until they found Asylum Justice.
“From the moment our lawyer first spoke with us about our case, showing such care, professionalism, and patience – we felt like we had finally found someone who was going to be able to really help us. Someone with a caring spirit, with the expertise which we desperately needed.”
Asylum Justice took on the appeals of Carlos, Magdalena and their family. Asylum Justice works with many asylum seekers at appeal who, like Carlos and Magdalena, have had legal aid withdrawn due to failing the merits test. The merits test determines what percentage of success a case will have and whether legal aid can be granted for the lawyer to continue the case.
In spite of what the merits test predicts for cases like theirs – since 2014 Asylum Justice has had a 70% average success rate at appeal – year on year achieving success rates higher than the national average. We had a 64% success rate in 2020, compared to the national success rates of 44%. This is 64% of our appeal clients who would not have been granted status without our organisation’s intervention.
Asylum Justice supported this particular family over a long period, 2 ½ years from start to finish. Asylum Justice carefully prepared their appeals to the Tribunal, including obtaining expert reports and considerable country and medical evidence. As well as instructing experienced barristers to make the family’s case in court. All this hard work resulted in the family being granted protection and being able to be able to continue their lives in Wales.
“Thanks to Asylum Justice – we can have a fresh start in this country. We are committed to Wales, to being active citizens and treating this country as our own. It’s opened doors for us to have dignity in this life. To live in a safe place and be protected.”
We are the only organisation in Wales who can represent asylum seekers at appeal when legal aid has been withdrawn. Without Asylum Justice, our clients would have been left to represent themselves in court or pay solicitor fees which they cannot afford.
“We have no idea what we would have done without Ruth and Asylum Justice. We feel like it’s a miracle. Looking back at everything that has happened – we were astounded by the work which Asylum Justice had done to help us.
“Thank you to everyone at Asylum Justice who have listened to us and helped us. Thank you for your professionalism. You all have huge hearts.”
*Please be aware we have not used the individuals’ real names.