Khan Meets the House of Lords

The Houses of Parliament against a blue sky

Two weeks ago, Khan* – one of our education grant recipients – spoke to members of the House of Lords about their experience as an asylum seeker in the UK.

We wanted to share this story, to showcase the amazing things the young people we support through our Grants and Advocacy Programme are getting up to alongside their studies.

The event took place online on January 20th and was organised by Safe Passage, Hummingbird Project, and Kent Refugee Action Network. This was a chance for young refugees and asylum seekers working with these organisations to discuss the Nationality and Borders Bill currently being debated in the House of Lords and to share their stories, experiences, and opinions. You can read more about the Bill’s proposed restrictions on the rights of refugees and asylum seekers’ in the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants’ report here.

In attendance were Lord Alfred Dubs, a former child refugee and campaigner for refugees and asylum seekers’ rights, and the Earl of Dundee, who chaired the event.

Khan opened the event alongside Lord Dubs and the Earl of Dundee. They then gave an excellent and moving statement about their experience of struggling for safety and freedom as an LGBTQ+ person from Pakistan.

In their speech, Khan highlighted the dangers of living as an LGBTQ+ individual in places where there are laws against homosexuality. Khan describes their life in Pakistan as ‘dark’, due to their inability to express their feelings or access education as an LGBTQ+ person, as well as the threat of forced marriage, imprisonment, or even death.

When they were a teenager, Khan applied for asylum in the UK, a place where they could live in safety, with full freedom to be themself.

I am passionate about helping others, improving their lives and making them better. I am here in the UK, and I am making a positive contribution.

Now, Khan is studying Computer Systems and Networks at university. Khan hopes to use what they’re learning to help others in the future.

During the event, the young leaders spoke about the importance of providing safe routes for young people seeking sanctuary, who face serious threats to their lives and wellbeing in their home countries.

We want our human rights … for people to listen to our story … and to stop the Nationality and Borders Bill against Refugees.

In response to the Government’s New Plan for Immigration, Safe Passage, Hummingbird Project, and Kent Refugee Action Network have written a joint report. This sets out several key recommendations and highlights both the need for more safe routes to the UK and the positive contribution of refugees to the country.

You can read the report, ‘Safe Routes from the Perspectives of Young Refugees’, here and join Safe Passage’s campaign to stop the Nationality and Borders Bill from being passed by emailing a member of the House of Lords.

Hope for the Young is incredibly proud of Khan and all the young leaders for making their voices heard, and we can’t wait to see what they do next!

* The young person’s name and some details in this story have been changed in order to protect their identity.

Alice Finta

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