Saturday, 9 February 2008

DAY 1: Sunday 10th February 2008

When someone’s case is refused, the UK Home Office allows them two weeks notice to leave their accommodation, at which time the financial provision of £37 a week will also be stopped. This is despite often having no means to leave the country either by land, sea or air. Many feel that their good grounds for claiming asylum have been poorly represented or they simply fear returning to their home country & so are forced to begin to live a life of utter destitution.

It is at this stage where government policy on immigration & asylum creates ‘Living Ghosts’. They are essentially airbrushed out of existence as ‘failed’ asylum seekers, but they remain here & this reality goes unnoticed by society at large.

Some receive support of a basic food parcel from destitution projects across the country -these are often facilitated through the goodwill & charity of faith & community groups working together with the British Red Cross.

The Lent Endurance Challenge (details on is to live the life of a refused person seeking asylum for one week, in order to give you but a just small insight of how these people experience poverty in the UK.

First day, found Vivienne, my wife, calculating how much food we are allowed each day:

too much vegetable oil!

½ cup of orange juice

½ cup of milk

3½ squares of chocolate

small handful of peanuts

3½ biscuits

2 teabags (no coffee!)

3 slices of bread

½ piece of fruit

plus whatever you could make out of the remainder

Breakfasts pose a particular challenge!

As I am diabetic, I have chosen to modify the food parcel accordingly – diabetic asylum seekers are allowed to take from the standard food parcel those items they want & in addition they are given £6 cash

In my case I have opted to purchase oats (in lieu of semolina – which I suspect is too processed for my particular dietary needs) so I can have porridge each day for breakfast, granary bread, brown rice & additional fresh fruit – all of which allow me to maintain a Low G I diet for my diabetic control

I was diagnosed with diabetic symptoms just over a year ago & it is controlled by exercise, diet & tablets - so a week with a food parcel will be an interesting experiment! (I will also keep up my exercise & tablet regime which includes a number of supplements recommended by my doctor)

As a safety precaution I have decided to regularly test my blood glucose levels to ensure that I am not inflicting any lasting damage on my body

On a practical level - I filled the car with petrol today otherwise would not be able to function also I have decided I will use my car, email & phone for BOAZ work otherwise I will 'fast' from these (& in the case of the email & phone/mobile I'm looking forward to some peace! next week my inbox will be full . . . will be tempted to 'Select All' & 'Delete')

As today was Sunday we went to church & were able to have a sneaky cup of coffee, after the meeting – two asylum seeker friends also came back to lunch & we couldn’t expect them to eat ’food parcel fare’ (well that’s our excuse)

After lunch I met up with the local newspaper for a ‘photo opportunity’ with a family of three generations (daughter, mother & grandmother) who are all taking the Challenge - we exchanged notes & discovered we’re all ‘feeling the cold’ & feeling hungry

Last Friday I spent an hour being interviewed on the local radio, along with two asylum seekers, about asylum & the work of BOAZ - it seems there is a lot of interest in the media at the moment

Breakfast: porridge & 1 slice of dry toast

Lunch: Chicken & couscous and an apple

Dinner: 1 sardine on dry toast plus piece of chocolate (this is another variation apparently as a diabetic I am allowed plain Belgium Chocolate – friends & family note for birthday & Christmas presents)

Bed time: Hungry!

Blood glucose level 6.3 mmol/L* (this is good nhs direct states that normal blood glucose levels are between 4 & 7 mmol/L)

* millimols per litre?

This promises to be a very interesting week

No comments: