Making Home Away

So I sat them down and told them: the five of us are here, me, you and your father, wherever the five of us are, that place should be your heaven.
Discover their stories


Current 'Home' West Midlands, UK

Jamila recalls how her children helped her find her way home on unfamiliar bus routes in their new town:

"The caseworker took me, she showed me the town.  I didn’t remember properly. I didn't understand her, seriously.  I remember she told me to take the bus.  (So) I start counting, if I'm coming back at night.  In November is night coming quickly. I said to my children, maybe we lost the way now... maybe it's just one, two, three stops from the town to my house, but we don’t know the area.  But my children were more clever than me sometimes. They remembered, 'Mamma we stop here, we stop here'.”

The ability to travel independently in order to reach shops, doctor's appointments, build up connections and have a social life is mentioned as a source of empowerment by many refugees, as they adjust to life in new places.  This is particularly important for pregnant women and new mothers, as illustrated by this initiative in Scotland to provide bus passes.  'M' - a 17 year old Iraqi refugee living in Birmingham - also speaks about his gratitude to the social worker who helped him get a bus pass in a moving blog describing his experience as an unaccompanied asylum seeker arriving in the UK.


This extract is from an interview conducted in 2020 by Kalwinder Sandhu with supervision by Vicki Squire, as part of the British Academy funded ‘Lost and Found: A Digital Archive of Migration, Displacement and Resettlement’ project’s Making Home Away archive.