As part of our #noplacelikehome campaign, Holly (our Communications Manager) caught up with Say It Loud Club members to find out about their experiences with housing in the UK. Today, Holly is speaking to James, a member who was able to secure his own flat this year after gaining refugee status.
H: Hi James! Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
J: Hi Holly. My name is James. I am a Nigerian, born in 1966, and came to the UK in 2009.
H: Thanks for making time to chat with us, James. What has your experience with housing been like over the 11 years you've been in the UK?
J: My experience with housing in the UK I think has been very difficult. Were I to start to explain all of my experiences I would talk for ages yet not be finished! I found the hardest things were sharing rooms, the way people talk to you, and people telling you what you must do and what you must not do. For example, I would often have to wait a long time to be able to cook, I wouldn't be allowed friends in, and I would be asked to bring my voice down though others are the ones making lots of noise in the house.
H: That sounds like a really frustrating situation. Has anything changed since you gained refugee status this year?
My housing situation is now beautiful because Say It Loud Club helped me to get a flat in Ilford. I am very happy now I have my privacy, I can do what I like in my flat without any one questioning me. Privacy is very important in everyone's life because when you are facing all different difficult situations in a house, mentally it's painful for everyone. Not like now, I have a place called my own, I have my privacy, I can talk the way I like, I can cook any time I want, anybody can come to see me.
H: I'm so glad to hear it! Are there any other ways that Say It Loud Club has been able to support you?
J: Say It Loud Club has helped me in so many ways, from immigration to housing, the club is amazing.
H: As you know, we've had to make a lot of changes to the way we work in 2020, and we don't see each other as we would usually. How has 2020 been for you, has COVID-19 brought many challenges?
J: 2020 to me has been an amazing year because I got my refugee status and I got my house. In the case of the COVID-19, I am lucky to be working as we are the people who clean and sanitise trains and make it ready to be used the next day.
H: So you're one of the true heroes of the year! Thank you for everything that you've been doing, James. Last question - what would you like to see changed for LGBTQ+ refugees in the future, to ensure everyone can be as happy with their housing situation as you now are?
J: I would like to ask the government to see us the same way they see other people, by giving us equal rights and giving us the opportunity of getting a house like everyone else does. People in power should always have LGBTQ+ people in mind to give us all the opportunities that are given to others - it's as simple as that for me.
H: Well said! Thanks James, see you soon.
J: Thank you everyone, and thanks to you Holly and our Director, Aloysius - bless Say It Loud Club.