Syria to Manchester: What is it like to be an asylum seeker?

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Most people will have seen their parents in the last couple of years; but for many asylum seekers such as Ryan, they haven’t seen them for nearly seven. 

Ryan, who wishes to only be identified by his first name, is a 27-year-old Syrian who came to the UK to study English. Ryan intended to return to Syria to finish his degree after a couple of months in the UK, but was unable to return due to increasing conflict in the country, which was when he decided to seek asylum.

In 2016, there were 30,474 requests for asylum from people in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan compared to only 21,843 in 2012.

“I had never heard about seeking asylum before,” said Ryan.

“I had to go to the Home Office in London to apply for it where they conduct an interview with me and took all my details. They then sent me to a hostel to stay in for a while.

“A couple of my friends have been attacked by people in a racist way but since I’ve been in Manchester I’ve never, ever had anything like that – everyone has been lovely to me.”

“I was in Liverpool for a while, originally I wanted to be in London, but you don’t get to decide where you’re going – the Home Office does.

“Once they had made the decision to grant me asylum, I had the right to move wherever I wanted which is when I went to the Home Office in Manchester where they put me in a shared house with other asylum seekers in Salford.”

Despite wanting to go to London, Ryan said it was too expensive to live there and he found that there were good opportunities in terms of work, living and studying in Manchester.

He said: “I believe that everything happens for a reason. Manchester is in the UK, it has lovely people, there’s opportunities to get a job, there’s universities; stuff like that so I thought, ‘let’s just deal with it and stay in Manchester.’”

Ryan has now been in Manchester for five years and sees it as his home where he has made many friends and “feels a part of the city”. Luckily, Ryan has had no altercations in terms of hate crime since being in the UK but has found a couple of his friends have not been as lucky.

He said: “A couple of my friends have been attacked by people in a racist way but since I’ve been in Manchester I’ve never, ever had anything like that – everyone has been lovely to me.”

Even though Ryan has been in the in U.K for almost seven years, some members of Ryan’s family are still in Syria. He explained that his parents live in the capital of Syria, Damascus, which is ran by the Government rather than Islamic Militants. Due to this, they are reasonably safe and stable, but it is still difficult for them living in a war zone. Ryan hasn’t seen his parents since he came over to the UK over six years ago.

Ryan hopes to stay in Manchester in the future, once he has completed his degree in I.T. When Ryan first came to the UK, he tried to get a job but his Syrian qualifications were not recognised here. This is why he decided to study at university, but he is looking forward to his future in the UK.

“When I finish uni I will try to get a job here but if I can’t, I wouldn’t mind moving to new a country and trying some new experiences with good job.”

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