The impact on marriages and family life

Marriages are breaking down because of the stress caused by the law which forces some families not to work. I cannot describe the amount of stress which comes with not being allowed to work. If you were used to waking up the rest of your life working and then suddenly you are told “No, just sit there, don’t work “, it is so so stressful. And I can understand why some marriages actually brake down because people would struggle to handle that situation where they are no longer allowed to work. It brings a lot of argument in the family because kids want this and the wife wants that and you can’t provide for that and all the frustration is vented out and sometimes people end up not respecting each other and then they separate. In fact it is not just marriages that have broken down, some people have actually lost their mental strength, we have quite a lot of people we know who have developed mental health problems because they can’t handle this. And others have actually committed suicide. So it has brought chaos to family life. It is not encouraging family life.

I arrived in the UK in September 2002. I’ve been living here for 6, almost 7 years and I am not permitted to work. This policy has a huge negative impact, on both myself and my family. It has caused us severe depression. At the moment when my children ask me to provide for them like any other citizen around, I am not able to do what my children ask. As a result, my children feel they are inferior. I am not allowed to work and I sit around. This is affecting all of us.

This policy has a big emotional impact. My children ask me, “Daddy why don’t we go on holiday?”. When they ask me this question I feel grief from the bottom of my heart. I don’t even know how to answer that question.  I don’t want to give them false hope and I don’t want to lie to them. Because lying is not good. So I struggle to give them answers.

During the Christmas holidays my children see other children from their school with new Christmas shoes. Why aren’t we decorating our house like the other houses? When they ask me these questions I don’t give them an answer, I just feel grief in my heart and say nothing.

My children would like to feel equal with other children, but they cannot feel equal. They feel inferior and it is psychologically affecting them. That’s the situation we are in.

Sometimes you actually use your own money to buy groceries for others, because you go into a family and virtually they have got nothing because what they are receiving from government is not enough, and sometimes they don’t get anything, contrary to what people say. And so you chip in and you buy them food. You are basically helping to keep body and soul together but you are also implicitly creating a problem because you move in with the groceries and as soon as you go out there is division between the husband and wife, because the husband feels belittled because the wife is thanking you for bringing the food and the husband thinks that you fancy her now.  Because we have taken out the role that he is supposed to be playing in the family and so there is turmoil being created in the family. Although we are going in to do good, we are creating another problem

Within the Zimbabwean community in Britain today we know that the divorce rate is on the increase and one of the main reasons is this idea that the husband is not allowed to go our and work because they are an asylum seeker. Yet back home this man was probably a doctor, a banker, a manger. I think sometimes you sit down and you say they seem to be suffering even more than the physical abuse they have escaped from in their own countries. 

If you have Section 4 support you are not allowed to have anyone living with you, it doesn’t matter who.  6 people live there in the house I live in. How can I bring my wife there, sharing the bath and everything? Its very hard. She can’t come. And also I can’t go because her family doesn’t have enough place she has to look after her disabled brother.

We are not allowed to marry like ordinary people. I don’t know why. We have a very bad situation. We feel like 3rd class people, not allowed to work not allowed to marry, not allowed to have love. Because you need your life, a simple life, but the government doesn’t let you. Its very very very bad. You are in middle of a situation I can’t change myself, this waiting for a decision. (To be allowed to marry here) you have to ask for a form which costs a lot of money, nearly £300, and you have to get a solicitor which will maybe because you £500, and after that they refuse you or maybe not.  Its big money. I can’t afford that money as I’m not allowed to work.  I hope our situation gets better and let us work and let us get married. Simple like that. We are normal people nothing different. We suffered from bad government in Iraq and we’ve suffered again in here. Again. But in different ways. Nothing changed. Thank you very much. I hope everything changes as soon as possible.

We both feel very angry. You can’t do anything. You can’t. I keep telling her just wait, wait. She says how long, I say I don’t know, just wait. And that situation, that problem, causes too much headache for me. Sometimes we have arguments. Because I can’t go there. Its very very bad. She says why don’t you come, but sometimes you have no cash and you can’t travel every day. They don’t give us cash, they give us £35 as vouchers you spend for food

There is a problem in families. They quarrel in front of their children. It is not a good life. And then sometimes they go and do black work and this is dangerous to the family. Because they don’t allow them to work. Some people I know, the husband beat his wife, about money because they didn’t have enough they needed for the children. If they work in the black it makes them nervous because they are doing something against the law and they are afraid, and this affects their life. Sometimes the quarrel and he beats his wife. She went to the police and they separate them, and they are destroyed. Maybe they will divorce. It destroys family life.