11-year-old schoolgirl shows video of small shelter where family of asylum seekers have been living for six months


A young schoolgirl has revealed the horrors of homelessness in a clip showing the small space her family has been forced to live in.
Aya, 11, used her phone to film the cramped hotel room she has lived in for six months.

She shares difficult conditions with her mother Emal, her little brothers Awab, eight, and Abdulrahman, six. Older brother Ahmed, 14, has a separate single bedroom next door.

The family fled the warring Sudan to build a better life in Britain. They brought the beds closer together so that they could use it not only for sleeping, but also for eating, studying, talking and playing.

The family, whose identities have been protected, were renting an apartment, but their owner told them they would have to move as he planned to sell, Birmingham Live reports.

Schoolgirl Aya

Six months later, the family is still crammed into the hotel room waiting for something to become available on the social housing list. Aya’s 15-second video shows how the room has no desk, cupboard, or space for anything other than sleeping.

She said, “It’s not great, but it’s not good. I have no privacy at all. I don’t miss any school. I’m paranoid that I’ll be late so sometimes I take an early bus so I arrive early.

“We just really want a house. This hotel is not that great, it’s just that the room is so small and there is not much we can do together. We love to play together, we love to play games together, we would really love our own bedrooms for privacy and all. We manage to play silly games, but it’s not the same.

“We normally like to cook together, but we can’t do it at the hotel. I can’t study well, there is no desk so we sit on the floor or on the bed. Sometimes it is really difficult. It makes us sad. Sometimes I really need my own space and my privacy. ”

The beds were pushed together so the young family could eat, sleep and play

Aya said her mother was struggling.

She added: “It’s hard for her, my brothers like to jump and are loud, she can’t have a quiet space, and they make the place messy because they’re young and don’t really know how to be. behave in a small place.

“They want to move, they don’t like living here. Every day my little brother tells my mom, when can he have his own room?

They have an en-suite bathroom where there is a shower and a sink which also serves as a kitchen as they also do the dishes. Aya’s video opens in the doorway of the shared room in Birmingham and moves along a wall, a shelf full of food, utensils and personal effects spilling out from underneath.

She said her classmates knew she lived in a hotel. She added: “They don’t like to visit very much, there are no opportunities to do much here, that’s all. With the coronavirus, it is limited anyway.

“Sometimes I didn’t fully understand the job so I needed a teacher to explain it, so I much prefer to be in school. We have internet access in the hotel but we have to pay for it, we get a package, they have a rule to charge you for it.

Aya shares the room with her family

” It’s difficult. There is no space to do my homework and it is difficult to concentrate because of it. We appreciate the council’s help, but we all really want a place to live.

Mum Elam said: “It’s very difficult. There is only one kitchen and many families, so at 5 p.m. or shortly after the children return home but there is no space in the kitchen. Sometimes we have no choice, we have to get food from the outside and it is neither healthy nor good for us.

Councilor Sharon Thompson, Birmingham City Council Homes and Neighborhoods Cabinet Member, said: “First and foremost, we are working to prevent homelessness wherever possible.

“In 2020, pressures from Covid-19 have meant that we have seen more and more families approaching us due to changing financial and personal circumstances.

“Although this unfortunately meant that we had to place some people in guesthouses, we have worked hard to ensure that everyone is placed in decent accommodation and we seek to prioritize families so that the children can continue in their schools and grow up in as much stable environment as possible. ”


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