Ali's story

Ali’s story


Ali was just 15 years old when he fled from Iran for having converted from Islam to Christianity. After a long and dangerous journey he arrived in Surrey in the back of a lorry, with nothing. He needed a safe place to stay. He was given a home at YMCA Guildford Foyer and staff supported him in every way to help him deal with his traumatic experience and then develop the skills he would need to settle in the UK. He’s been helped with language and is back into college and is studying Biology, Chemistry and Maths A Levels. He’s now working towards becoming a doctor.

Ali tells his story:

“Travelling alone from Iran, I felt like a homeless person…..  I no longer had my mother or father. I knew I couldn’t go back to Iran as it isn’t safe for me, and I even tried to commit suicide.

When I got to the UK the police found me.  I needed a safe place to stay. I needed someone to support me so I was sent here to the YMCA.   I have had a lot of support here.  It has helped me to organise my life.  The YMCA has taught me how to find friends, I feel safe here and I am going to college.  I have learned English here very well in the last seven months. My support worker has taught me about everything, how to spend my money, how to meet people, how to do a lot of things.  The other residents have helped me to learn how to live in the UK.  The staff are so friendly and kind and they have good conversations with me. They have all taught me a lot, especially the lady who cleans my floor in the hostel – she has helped me to learn the names of foods and other things.

Everything has changed.  Now I have the opportunity to do everything.  I have a lot of hope and I feel more normal, I am connected to the community.  Before I was so shy, now I start conversations with people because I have a lot of confidence.  Now it’s incredible I am doing A levels which are the most difficult A levels in the UK – Biology, Chemistry and Maths!

I hope I will be able to train to be a doctor….I have a plan to go to other countries, poorer countries, for one month a year to provide medical help for the people.  I want to give back help to people in bad situations.

Since sharing his story Ali has moved into the home of a local family he met through attending a local church.  After a long process, Ali has gained permanent asylum in the UK.  He is settled and thriving in his new home.  He still wants to become a surgeon, is studying hard at college, and, is in frequent contact with his YMCA friends.

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

You can make a difference

If you would like to support a young person like Ali why not sign up to our ROOM SPONSORSHIP scheme. For just 40p a day you could make a long-term difference to a young person needing support at a crucial time in their lives. You can help put them on the path to a brighter future.

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YMCA enables people to develop their full potential in mind, body and spirit. Inspired by and faithful to our Christian values, we create supportive, inclusive and energising communities, where young people can truly belong, contribute and thrive.

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