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Ameer’s story

Ameer* came to the UK as an asylum seeker. His contact with YMCA started him on his journey towards building a new life.

*Name and photo have been changed to protect the identity of the young person

Ameer came to the UK as an asylum seeker from Sudan. He had to leave Sudan because he was wrongly accused by the Government of collaborating with the West Sudanese rebels. Ameer spent 14 days in prison when he was just 21 where he was brutally tortured and beaten. When he was released from the prison he was still closely watched by the police and had to endure regular humiliation, beatings and torture. He was scared that sooner or later the police would find a reason to imprison him again. Scared for his life and future Ameer fled the country with the help of some family friends who smuggled him on to a French cruise ship. Ameer spent 23 days in a dark, cramped engine room without seeing the daylight and survived by eating dates.

When Ameer finally arrived in France, he spent three months trying to get on to a lorry to come to the UK. Ameer didn’t want to seek asylum in France because he was worried that the French Government would deport him back to Sudan. He was arrested just after arriving in England and after spending a few days at a detention centre was sent to Glasgow. Whilst waiting for a decision on his asylum application Ameer was using the internet to find out more about the UK. He found a Wikipedia page about Brighton and fell in love with the city just by reading about it.

When Ameer was granted asylum he scraped together all his savings and bought a train ticket to Brighton.

After arriving in Brighton with no money and nowhere to go Ameer was sleeping rough on a bench in Palmeira Square until someone advised he should go to the council and ask for support. The council referred Ameer to YMCA DownsLink Group’s YAC service that is the first point of access for housing advice for anyone under the age of 26.

The advice worker at YAC was able to offer Ameer a placement with Sussex Nightstop, a service that matches volunteer hosts with young homeless people on night-to-night bases.

Ameer stayed with a range of hosts whilst studying English at college and doing a course to become a security guard.

During this time, Ameer attended YAC general advice drop-in to get support on a range of issues. As he says himself, he felt safe with YAC knowing that if something happens they will offer support and advice.

Eventually YAC were able to offer Ameer a place in one of YMCA DLG’s Empty Homes properties. Empty Homes is a scheme that brings empty properties back into use to provide affordable and safe accommodation to young people in housing need.

On 15th February, Ameer moved into his own room in a flat sharing with four other young people. Now he has a safe base from where to build his new life in the UK. Ameer is looking for employment and has started an Access course, as he wants to go to university and study business and IT.