Some of the people we help at Solace have young families. In many cases, this means a single mother with a young child (or children). Many of them have fled domestic violence in countries where women have no protection and many have suffered from sexual violence. Their vulnerability is exacerbated by a hostile asylum process in the UK and state-imposed poverty (as a result of UK Government policy), including poor housing (see http://harehillshouse.blogspot.co.uk ) and lack of utilities, furniture and other facilities (see https://vimeo.com/54981354). Letters from the Home Office refusing asylum are more common than those which grant asylum.
Physical pain often accompanies emotional distress where physical ailments often feed off emotional distress in a vicious circle of deteriorating wellbeing.
It is hardly surprising that in the face of all these difficulties, a mother (or mother and father) often struggle with parenting however old the child. In many cases, a young child ends up, in effect, caring for a parent. The anxieties of the parents are often picked up by a child. Problems may arise at school or just making friends. A child in these circumstances may be very lonely and emotionally starved which will often lead to problems later on in life.
Our aim, as with all our clients, is address as many of the problems they face as possible which means liaising with schools, health workers, social services, midwives, GPs among many others. Teaching parents parenting skills may be one of the interventions we provide, as well as opportunities to play with toys which they might not otherwise have. Home visits, activities groups (women’s group and bibliotherapy group) and outings are also part of the mix to help support emotional wellbeing.
The difficulties described above are not exclusive to asylum seekers, but apply to many with refugee status as well, because so many of them find it difficult to get work and so often to continue to struggle in poverty. See Mana's story below.