To coincide with refugee week our colleague, Morteza H at IAPT has written about his experiences of being a refugee.

Happy refugee week

Having come to this country as a refugee, I feel obliged to acknowledge the Refugee Week with extra care; or perhaps the prosperous life I have established makes me feel proud to celebrate this special occasion as a way of thanks giving. Regardless, I am very proud to be given this opportunity to share my thoughts with you.
With the recent intense attention that the media has given to refugees and their movement within Europe, and their everyday struggle to cross the Mediterranean Sea, I don`t think one would struggle to illustrate the tragedies that refugees face from the point they flee their country of origin till they reach safety. Even if you are not a refugee, it won’t be too hard to imagine their difficulties, their momentary hopes and panics, and their sense of loss; loss of home and homeland and the forgotten sweet sense of familiarity.
For me though, it is about more than the difficulty refugees experience to get to safe countries like the UK. For me the refugee week is about the birth of a new life and resting the losses at peace. It is about celebrating humanity and human right. Not long ago I was a service user who relied on other people`s support to even speak in English; and by the way this was the smallest favour I needed to carry on with my day to day life. Therefore, it would be selfish and ignorant to not acknowledge and appreciate the support I have received from different services in order to make it this far.
I have also been at the giving end for a little while now, working for and with services supporting BME clients. For example, my current employer, Touchstone IAPT, is very proud to be providing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to Black and Ethnic Minorities, including refugees and asylum seekers. Our expert clinicians come from different background and different ethnicities, some of who speak a second language. This enables us to be able to provide therapy at all levels sometimes without even using interpreters, but that is always an option.
This tremendous personal and professional transformation is perhaps the biggest achievement of my life and I am very proud of them. However, writing this article is not about me neither has its limits only set on refugees and asylum seekers. It is an opportunity to emphasise that supporting one another, regardless of being refugee or homeless, is the essence of our humanity. Let`s celebrate the refugees week by doing our little bit to help this sector of our society as any of us could experience difficult time any time. The one you support today may well pass that good gesture to someone else in the future.
If you wish to make any donations, our nominated organisation that supports refugees and asylum seekers in Leeds is called PAFRAS. Please feel generous to donate as PAFRAS are such a fantastic service and mainly rely on donations to continue their great work. Just copy and paste the link into your browser for making online donation.