Dear Mr Bassie,I am considering applying for asylum, but I am scared because I do not know how I would be able to support myself if I make this application now. I need some advice to help me in making my decision. I would be grateful for any assistance that you could give me.
If you do decide to make the application for asylum, then you should be aware that there are a number of services run by charitable organisations which can assist you in the interim with your domestic arrangements while you await a decision. One such service is referred to as 'One Stop Services'.
The programmes of One Stop Services are run by various charitable organisations and providers. They offer advice and help with the asylum process. Their services also extend to assisting with an applicant's life in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom Border Agency gives these organisations money to be used to provide these types of support to asylum applicants and refugees. It should be noted that these charitable organisations are not involved in making decisions that pertain to a person's application and will not tell the United Kingdom Border Agency anything about their client without that person's permission.
Assistance by One Stop Services is normally offered to several categories of persons. The services offer advice to asylum applicants who have newly arrived in the United Kingdom; those who have just received the decision on their application; and successful applicants who are just beginning to build their new life in the United Kingdom.
The programme of services is designed to assist in a number of areas. The available facilities and resources are aimed at alleviating or avoiding any possible housing problems; assisting in finding schools for any dependent children to attend; and assisting in making contact with various agencies such as social services.
These services are also available to assist an applicant in locating and joining English language classes, as well as any questions that an applicant may have about asylum support. The service also provides advice about legal representation. In addition, if the applicant is successful and is granted permission to stay in the United Kingdom, then these services can provide information about building a life in the United Kingdom. Also, this service can provide information pertaining to persons who would like to return to their home country utilising the voluntary scheme that is available.
Just for completeness, apart from providing advice about the asylum process and adapting to life in the United Kingdom, to someone who is applying through the asylum process route, there are services that are available with respect to other ancillary issues that may exist. For instance, the service provider may be able to help if the applicant has problems such as if he or she is being threatened or harmed by someone because of his or her race; if the applicant is being threatened or harmed by a member of his or her family; or if the applicant is the victim of a crime or a witness to a crime.
You should be aware that there are a number of other services that can be obtained, though this programme and the service provider will be able to assist with any other queries that you may have.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org