After graduating from the National University of Modern Language in Islamabad, Pakistan, Rajiyah* spent some time working as an accountant at the Fauji Foundation, also in Islamabad. Keen to progress her career and improve her language skills she took the opportunity to study in the UK at Bradford College.
It was during her time in Bradford that she was introduced to a man, through a mutual friend, who would go on to become her husband. Sadly, after their marriage, Rajiyah’s husband’s behaviour began to change and he became physically and verbally abusive towards her. They already had a young son when Rajiyah became pregnant again. She was reluctant to leave the family home but her husband’s behaviour made it impossible for her to stay as she feared for her safety and the safety of her son and unborn child. Desperate to leave her situation, Rajiyah reported her husband to social services and they advised her to leave the family home and seek asylum here in the UK. She claimed asylum and was moved to accommodation for asylum-seekers in Halifax. Not long after arriving in Halifax she gave birth to her second child, a son.
Following the birth of her second son, Rajiyah was granted refugee status in October 2019. Once granted refugee status, she had 28 days to leave her accommodation and find herself a new home. It was around this time that she referred herself to the Connecting Opportunities programme delivered by Halifax Opportunities Trust at Hanson Lane Enterprise Centre. The programme assigns key-workers to migrants and refugees to work with them to settle into their new lives here in the UK. A first priority for Bary, Rajiyah’s key-worker, was to assist her in finding a new place to live. He helped her apply to Calderdale Council for housing and she was rehomed along with her two sons within the month. Bary then began the work of helping Rajiyah think about her goals and hopes for her life here in the UK. Her past experiences had understandably left her traumatised and low in self-confidence so Bary worked with Rajiyah to find courses and qualifications that would give her the skills to stand on her own two feet.
Over the next twelve months Rajiyah began to apply for and complete several courses and took up volunteering opportunities to build her experience. Slowly, day-by-day her confidence began to come back and her self-esteem began to increase. She was starting to see it was possible to move on from her bad past experiences and build a new positive life here with her children.
In December 2020 Rajiyah contracted COVID-19 so Bary arranged for food parcels and Christmas presents for her children to be delivered to her home whilst she was recovering and isolating, he also made daily telephone calls to check on her wellbeing.
Looking back, Rajiyah had this to say of her time on the Connecting Opportunities programme with us:
“My support worker Bary helped me a lot after getting refugee status. This centre [Hanson Lane] and its people were the only hope in my dark times. They treated me well, like I am their family member. They helped me in converting my qualification [from university in Pakistan] via NARIC and I been granted Level 6 qualification. As a result of all this support I been offered a job as a Volunteer Administrator.”
Well done Rajiyah, your future certainly looks bright!
*Name and image changed to protect individual’s identity.