Waiting isn’t Working – Kemi’s Story


Every year, people are forced to flee their homes due to war or violence. Some people come to the UK to find safety and claim asylum. While they are waiting for the government to make a decision on their claim, they aren’t allowed to work. 

The current system is unfair – people can wait years for a decision, unable to work in all that time. It pushes people into poverty and isolation – it just doesn’t make sense! 

But don’t just take our word for it. Take Kemi’s. Kemi is an expert by experience – she’s lived through the asylum process and knows how important it is to give people seeking asylum the right to work. She shares her story and the importance of being able to work:

My name is Kemi, and I’m a mother of 4. I came to the UK in 2014 to study, but was forced to seek asylum in 2016. 

I spent 4 years in this incredibly difficult process as I waited for the Home office to make a decision on my asylum claim, unable to work, and forced to live in poverty with a young daughter.

My life in limbo left me so depressed. Every morning for 4 years, I opened my door and checked if there was a letter in the post. Every morning I feel heartbroken. 

Asylum seekers are slowly dying in silence. 

Waiting isn’t Working 

I'm a strong, hard working woman. I can work, I can look after myself and my daughter. I can give so many things back to this country, pay my tax. I am educated. I have so many skills. If I work, I’m not just doing it for me - the government will gain from me, and it will all go back to them and to people that need it. It will help them, and help me too. They can keep the £5 a day they give us if they allowed me to work. 

With £5 a day to live on, it's really, really, difficult. As a single mother who has a child with allergies – it’s very hard. It means a lot of sacrifice, going to foodbanks, going hungry so that my daughter can get what she needs.

Not being able to work made me feel like I was useless and worthless. I studied accounting at university, I can braid hair; I can sew cloth and make shoes and bags. I can work but I wasn’t allowed to.

A message to the Home Office 

If I could give the Home Office a message, I would tell them that they should please consider us. We didn't come to this country to take things from them. Asylum seekers are not lazy. We want to be able to survive on our own, to make our own income, and give back to society. We want to be able to rent our own house, want to be able to go to school, want to be able to be like normal human beings. We can help the UK economy. We are not after benefits, we want to give back, and there are so many people who can do so much for this country. I am one of them.  

Sweet New Beginnings 

When I finally got my status just a few short months ago, I just screamed.  

Now that I have my status, I am anxious and excited to get started with my life, to be able to live in my own place, to be able to work and provide for my family, to be able to reunite with my other children who I haven’t seen for 5 years. At that time that pain will go away - I can never forget the pain I suffered back home and in the asylum system, but I will overcome it.  

If you fall down, you have to stand up. No one will hold you up. I have had to keep deciding to stand up, because strength comes from within. For this, I am proud of myself.  

I am passionate about supporting women and making sure people don’t have to go through what I’ve gone through. It is my mission to give and lift up the people around me. 

Even though I have my papers, my heart is with asylum seekers, and I will always stand with them in the fight for the right to work. 


Join Kemi and demand action today. 

Stand with Kemi and join us in calling on our Government to Lift the Ban. Let’s give people seeking asylum the right to work. Sign the Petition Now!