Meet the people behind the numbers: Ozzie’s story
In 2003, 12-year-old Ozzie boarded a flight from Zimbabwe to the UK. As the oldest of 3 siblings, it was his duty to join his mother in England and help her set up a new and safer life. Leaving behind his father and the rest of his family little did he know it would take almost 15 years until he was granted Leave to Remain.
At the time Zimbabwe was under the rule of Robert Mugabe, a controversial figure who was responsible for widespread corruption, economic mismanagement and human right abuses. Fearful for the safety of their children, Ozzie’s parents took the drastic decision to leave their country of birth.
Although seeking asylum was a long and arduous process, back in 2003 there were at least safe routes available to reach the UK. Ozzie was allowed to fly to the UK and seek asylum at the airport, an option cut off to most refugees in current times.
While the route to the UK was simple enough, the undertaking of seeking asylum was not. There was no Government scheme open to Ozzie and his family, they had little money, no shelter and no access to basic needs.
Ozzie’s mother came to the Refugee Support Group for help. Here, she was offered help with her asylum claim, she was given food parcels and offered support, kindness and access to a community of people she could rely on. Eventually the family saved enough money to join Ozzie and the family were reunited and granted Leave to Remain, everyone but Ozzie. By the time the Home Office granted asylum, Ozzie had turned 18, and at that time no longer qualified as a minor. While his siblings were free to continue their education Ozzie was not permitted to learn beyond college education. He had received several unconditional offers to attend university but the visa he was given did not permit higher education. Ozzie’s dream of attending university was cut off.
Ozzie was determined to make the best of his situation, and through his hard work and determination, he paid for online courses and studied independently to become a paralegal. By the time he turned 27 years old, Ozzie was finally granted Leave to Remain.
Once qualified Ozzie wanted to give back. He saw an advertisement for a volunteer caseworker at Refugee Support Group, he had come full circle. It’s now been 4 years that Ozzie has been helping people, who are in the position he once found himself in.
Reflecting on his journey Ozzie said “All my experiences have given me a passion to help people who are going through the same thing that I’ve gone through. I know what it’s like to be separated from family. But it’s much more volatile for people to seek asylum now. I have such sympathy for the people who risk their lives to get here, having met people to have gone through these journeys has given me an appreciation for my own journey, they risk everything to get here.”
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