Photo Credit: Stuart Manley
by Kate Penman

Today one of our tenants would have been having his first face to face mental health assessment. Ordinarily I would be accompanying him and be sat next to him for support during the assessment. Due to Covid-19 this is not possible and the appointment is now by telephone. English isn't his first language. Incidentally, he is classed in the system as being a 'destitute asylum seeker' therefore he is no longer supported by the Home Office and has No Recourse to Public Funds. Thank God he is still able to access the NHS. 

Speaking to him prior to the telephone assessment I wanted to make sure he understood what he needed to cover and share during the assessment. Afterwards I took a moment to reflect on how casually we were talking about the fact he’d witnessed the murder of a loved one, about his own imprisonment and torture - just unimaginable evil. I prayed at home whilst he was having the assessment that it would go well for him, not upset him and that he would be able to understand everything. 

Afterwards he video-called me straightaway...and the smile was comically mahoosive/huge! It's impossible not to instantly return this mile-wide grin. The assessment went really well. He liked the doctor immensely - he has a habit of liking everyone immensely, another of his many gifts. He understood most things and he was just thrilled with having someone to talk to about his past and his nightmares. The doctor is now arranging a further appointment for him to see a specialist dealing with torture and this will also help strengthen his new asylum case. 

When he came to the country he was traumatised, with no English - he was exhausted and fearful. Many mistakes and oversights have been made in his previous cases and support. In England, he has slept on the streets and in a rat-infested car wash, just hoping for a better life. With the help of the Refugee Migrant Centre, he was signposted to a homeless charity, The Good Shepherd who paid for a bed and breakfast straightaway and then contacted Hope into Action Black Country. We contacted another partner charity, Hope Projects who help us to support and advise destitute asylum seekers. The Good News  this tenant now studies at the Refugee Migrant Centre, he volunteers at The Good Shepherd, he is lovingly housed and supported by ourselves at Hope into Action Black Country and he has been nominated for a national award with Hope into Action (which he is thrilled about).

So – there’s so much to give thanks for! We praise God for today, for this tenant’s infectious joy at what most people would have struggled through - a mental health phone assessment in a foreign tongue about the horrors of your past - but he was thrilled, and so full of gratitude - to us and the 'very nice doctor.' 

Furthermore, he has been blessed with wonderful friendships from the partner church. Their love, prayer and support have helped him through challenging times. This has continued through lockdown, with regular calls and the delivery of a care parcel. Another church member is starting online ESOL sessions for the house which the tenants are really looking forward to.

He is painting the house during lockdown and was off to do that as we said our very smiley goodbyes - and I just wanted to share a little of his story with everyone in thanksgiving and to pray also for the NHS staff still working and reaching out to the most vulnerable and in need  and please keep him in your prayers as his asylum battle continues. 

I am sure you will recognise his smile from my description when you see him. I challenge you not to massively grin back!   

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