Touchstone Service user, turned volunteer Princewell talks about his experiences of seeking asylum and gaining refugee status… 

PrincewellMy experience and challenges as a refugee are to be summarised as less challenging than the Asylum and post asylum era where I can say I saw everything from deprivation, financial challenges and homelessness. Getting the refugee status was a big sigh of relief because it unlocked doors which have been locked and kept me in a limbo to access any rights.

The next challenge was to engage with the right services to establish myself, bearing in mind I have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. The very encouraging thing was I was located through the services which were supporting from being an Asylum seeker to the Refugee status. They referred me to another service which helped me with integration, accessing housing and getting financial support as well as to kick start a new life. The challenges have always been there but by being exposed to services I overcame them all.

My mental health was linked to difficulties and challenges faced before and during Asylum. Since there was so much going on worry, fear and anxiety tended to be the norm. Being a refugee impacted in a very positive way because some pressure have been eased off now. I have at least some rights which I did not have before. This brought a lot of assurance and stability.

One of the challenges I faced was that I had to play catch up. My heart was always set on training to be a Minister of the Gospel and I was limited by my status to access Higher Education, this was frustrating. After gaining refugee status I went to a Theological college which was one big step in the right direction.

My diagnosis was a struggle. Finding medication that would suit me best was hard and several medicines were prescribed that I struggled with which did not agree with me until they finally introduced Lithium or Priadel which suits me better, It was a battle to get up to this point.

The services have been a great help and I have had a lot of positive experiences. Being BME and not familiar with how things run, I have had to learn as it comes. I have to just go through the process and engage with services. I give credit to the services and help they offered.

I had support to manage the condition and to engage with the mental health Doctor, CPN and GP for medication supervision and stability check and support

I am now at a place of putting mental health challenges and struggles faced behind me. I value the experiences I had and can now chase my dreams. I work as a Minister Head of Evangelism department in my church. I now also volunteer as BME support worker with Touchstone WYFI project and getting married in December in my church all this seem to be beyond imagination but with the help of God all the people who were around me and services, I am happy to share my experience which I value and ready to serve oth

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