Jim & Helena

When people come to the UK in search of sanctuary, they hope to live in a society where they face less exclusion and more stability. However, even those who manage to secure the legal right to stay here often have to spend years in and out of the asylum system before getting a positive outcome that allows them to integrate and heal.

This was the case for one family who first arrived in the U.K. in 2015. They had their initial asylum claim and two subsequent claims rejected, finally succeeding only with their fourth attempt, after Asylum Justice took on their case. Seven years had passed since they first claimed asylum, which meant they waited seven years before securing legal status and finding out if Wales would finally be their home.

“Before we went to Asylum Justice, we’d tried to go to legal aid solicitors again, but we weren’t eligible for legal aid. We went to Asylum Justice, and they were really positive about our case and its chances of success.”

Whilst an asylum seeker’s claim is under consideration  by the Home Office, they receive less than £6 a day per family member to live on. This small amount of money makes it difficult to cover essential living costs like food, transport, SIM cards, and clothing. Shocking statistics from various reports published in recent years, such as “Locked into poverty: Life on asylum support” (Asylum Matters), confirm that 84% of people seeking asylum reported that they didn’t always have enough money to buy food. For Jim’s family of five, this meant making long journeys, loaded up with shopping bags, back and forth  to the cheap supermarket at the other end of the city.

This all became much more difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic, as access to the internet became even more essential and supermarkets began running out of cheaper food items. Jim was grateful to local charities that helped during this time by providing £20 phone top-ups and other support, so the family could stay connected even whist living off such a small amount of money.

Finally, in 2022, the fresh claim Asylum Justice submitted for the family was accepted and they were granted leave to remain in the U.K.. In 2021, Asylum Justice had a 56% success rate for fresh claims. This is a high success rate, given that 85% of fresh claims nationally are summarily rejected for failing to meet the evidential threshold. A key component of many fresh claims is expert evidence, usually in the form of a medical or other type of expert report. In this case, one of the family members had severe mental health issues. None of their previous solicitors had ever sought an expert report to comment on their mental health, despite this being a known vulnerability while working with the family.

Expert reports usually cost up to a few thousand pounds,  and typically require an expert to testify as to the conditions in an applicant’s country of origin, or a doctor to testify to the physical / mental health of the person. Other types of expert reports are based on an expert being able to authenticate a document that supports someone’s claim. Without expert reports, which frequently constitute essential evidence in a claim, the Home Office are far less likely to accept what a person says in their asylum claim.

“It’s a relief to now be able to start working and earning money, to not be limited. I’ve got a bricklaying test tomorrow – if all goes well, I’ll have a job by the end of the week! We’re so overjoyed to be able to stay here in Wales and see our kids continue their education. Our daughter loves school so much, she often doesn’t want to come home at the end of the day. Wales really is a perfect place to live – everyone is so friendly, and we feel really happy here.”

“I was so happy with how my lawyer did everything. When they were working with us – they made everything so clear, crystal clear that it really reassured us that we were in safe hands.”

“I know there are many people like me who need Asylum Justice’s services and I hope that they can also get the same help when they need it from Asylum Justice.”