Names have been changed on the request of the member.
Mounish has lived in Bristol for twelve years but it has been a very difficult twelve years. He visited the UK several times before he decided to move here permanently and always liked Bristol, as it has a very welcoming community. So, when he was forced to flee Bangladesh, that’s where he decided to come.
In Bangladesh Mounish was involved in politics as a member of an opposition party. He felt he was no longer safe there due to his political activities. He received threats to his life and made the difficult decision to leave his home country and family behind. Mounish arrived in the UK on a visitor’s visa and when his visa ended he remained in the UK without any contact with the Home Office. The rumours in the community were that if you made an application to the Home Office you would be deported back to Bangladesh: and so in fear Mounish lived under the radar. He had no idea where to go to get legal advice, or that there was any organisation in Bristol that could provide support and advice to people in situations like his. Mounish lived with other members of the Bangladeshi community who would give him space in their homes. He survived by taking on work at local restaurants who would ‘pay’ him by giving him food or sometimes small amounts of cash.
This life continued until 2018, when the restaurant that Mounish was working in was raided by immigration officials – without papers, he was taken away and detained. At this time Mounish’s health was very poor as he was struggling to manage diabetes, so his detention was spent in a medical facility. It was only at this point of crisis that he first sought the advice of a solicitor and heard about organisations in Bristol that could offer advice and support to people like him. Hearing about Mounish’s experiences, the solicitor advised that he submit an asylum claim. With his asylum claim submitted, Mounish returned to life in Bristol. With his new community knowledge he started to receive a £10 a week destitution payment from the Red Cross which he could use to buy essentials and pay to travel to appointments in Bristol. He also started volunteering at local organisations. Mounish loves to give back and was always involved in a lot of voluntary work in Bangladesh.
Mounish’s physical and mental health remains poor. He has been in the UK for twelve years now and has only been able to see his family in Bangladesh, where he has a wife and two children, via video call. Mounish worries about his family; who continue to be harassed by the police. He believes this is because of his previous political activity. He has been diagnosed with depression and is accessing counselling through the NHS. Despite this, he struggles with suicidal thoughts and often feels hopeless.
“Living is not good for me – sometimes I think I want to die.”
“I never dreamed of a life like this.”
In 2021, Mounish’s asylum application was refused by the Home Office and this decision was upheld on appeal. Mounish says the Home Office don’t think he is a genuine asylum seeker as they say he has just come to the UK to work and send money back to his family. Those years in Bristol in which Mounish did not have the right information and was too afraid to seek legal advice and make an application to the Home Office have had a big impact on his ability to make a successful asylum claim. Mounish says his solicitor is still confident that he has a strong case and that the Home Office should change their decision. He has a list of additional evidence to support his case which his solicitor recommended he gather in order to submit a fresh claim. Much of this involves his family trying to get access to evidence back in Bangladesh – something that is even more difficult than usual at the moment due to Covid restrictions. Without a successful application for leave to remain in the UK, Mounish’s life in Bristol continues: without a right to work, supported only by charities and his community to survive.
“I have nowhere to go, but I’m also not here either.”