Rahim Amin and Rihana Senay both know Islington well as they have made the Pilion Trust’s Crashpad their temporary home when they needed somewhere to live. Here they introduce themselves to the #HearMeSpeak project by talking about their teenage years and current ambitions. Interviews by Diana Serenli and Matt Hardy
Rahim Amin from Engage London. (c) Engage London/DS
>RAHIM AMIN, 18 interview by Diana Serenli
Q: Where are you from?
I am from Sudan.
Q: Why did you come to London?
I am a refugee, from the war in Sudan.
Q: Tell me more about that. How did you get to London?
My uncle organised my trip here. From Libya, I took a boat to Italy, where I stayed for a while. After I had to take a train to the airport where I then took a plane to Heathrow.
Q: How long was the whole process?
Q: Where do you live?
Right now, I live with my friend. I used to live at the homeless shelter Crashpad during the winter. During warm weather I would sleep in the park for five maybe four nights but then I always go back to a shelter. Crashpad, were the ones who helped me find a place with my friend.
- Stop press! Rahim has just been given a place of his own to live.
Q: How long have you been a refugee in London?
Q: What is your dream?
My dream is to get a place and to bring my family here. Also, I want to study mechanics.
Q: Do you make any contact with your family?
Yes, I have a mobile phone that I brought myself.
Q: Do you study now?
Yes. Right now, I am studying English in College.
- Stop press 2! Rahim is due to join us at the summer school in Brussels.
Q: Have you got a job?
No not yet, but Job Centre is helping me find a job.
Q: How do you get money?
When I arrived, I was given a bank account, and it helps me a lot to buy food.
Q: Do you like London?
Yes. It’s safer than Sudan. People in London are nice, and it is a country full of experiences.
Q: Where in London do you like the best?
Camden and King’s Cross.
>>RIHANA SENAY, 21 interview by Matt Hardy
Q: So, growing up, what was it like?
I grew up in Kirkos in Ethiopia, it’s the most central area of the country. The crime was high and it was mostly a bad place for kids to grow up. Apparently, there were lots of prostitutes but I didn’t see much of that.
Q: What was Kirkos to you?
It was beautiful to me, lots of mixed lifestyles and everyone grew up together. We were all family; the social life was the best – everyone was your parents. I love it and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
Q: How did you end up in Islington and what’s it like?
I was in Ethiopia until I was 12, my mum was in the USA and my dad was already in London. I lived with my grandmother and I moved with my sister for a better life. London’s culture is the same as Ethiopia’s, there are loads of religions and lifestyles but people see your background more here. What tribe are you from? Which community are you from? People point out differences here.
Q: So, what is Crashpad and how did you get there?
Crashpad is like my second home, I’ve been in and out for three years. I was homeless before going to New Horizon and then Crashpad. I then went to a hostel which was eventually shut down – it was violent and it closed because a lack of funding – and I was homeless again. I then spent a year in Crashpad before going to a hostel. It was £285 per week and I was homeless again because I couldn’t afford it. I went to Crashpad for a third time and now I’m in shared accommodation. Crashpad is home, at Crashpad the past is the past and everyone comes together with respect.
Q: What next?
I would like to go back to Ethiopia, but not without the money. I would want to make a difference once I graduate from University. I’m planning to build a shelter or day centre. Its Pillion trust and Crashpad – Ethiopia style!
Q: Would you relive your life experience again?
Yes! It’s been the greatest experience, it’s taught me a lot and it’s taught me that blood isn’t everything. I’ve learnt who to rely on and who to trust. But I would choose to do it all again in a heartbeat.
- Interviewer Matt Hardy’s twitter is @thepoliticosu
- Follow his personal twitter on @matthardyjourno