In 2010, a young Islamic man from Pakistan, belonging to a conservative, politically active and wealthy family, travelled to the UK to study at university. Here he fell in love with a young Sikh lady from India and the dynamic of their lives changed irreversibly in the most challenging ways, leading them to seek support at CPSL Mind. Their identities have been kept anonymous in this piece to protect their safety.
Their love was not acceptable to their families due to their different backgrounds and religions and they were both banished from their homelands. A fatwa, a decision made in Islamic law, was issued calling for their deaths meaning they could not return to Pakistan or India safely.
They had gone from being millionaires in their home countries to having nothing, no family and being unable to return home. This led to a steep decline in their mental health as they struggled to survive in the UK.
Once their student visas expired the couple faced deportation which would almost certainly have resulted in being killed in their home countries. By this point they also had a young child together and a struggle to stay in the UK ensued as they sought to obtain leave to remain.
For the following 7 years or so until 2019, they were unable to work legally due to their status in the UK and faced the prospect of deportation on an almost constant basis. Affording rent and food was a huge struggle and the couple faced huge amounts of hate and discrimination from their own community due to their relationship. They experienced violence, theft and sexual harassment in addition to being treated “like slaves”.
All of this led to years of moving from home to home just trying to survive whilst waiting to see if they could legally stay in the UK. When speaking to the couple they said “we were just sitting waiting for a knock on the door to deport us. We’d have preferred to die here in the UK than go back home and be killed. They would have killed our children too. Mentally we were dead. We’d sit in the corner crying together praying that nobody would knock on our door.”
The anxiety and depression which their circumstances created over a near 10-year period was unbearable and it got to the point where the couple had made plans to end their lives and the lives of their children to escape their situation. “Many times we thought if somebody came to deport us we were going to kill ourselves.”
The stress, anxiety and depression caused physical symptoms including fainting and being unable to walk or sleep and it was only for each other and their children that they were able to carry on – “I was depressed, my family were the only thing that kept me going.”
Their situation began to turn around when they were referred to CPSL Mind in 2018 by their midwife. They both attended 1:1 wellbeing sessions which they say “gave us lots of emotional help and the support to keep on living. Finally, someone listened to us and helped us get out of that depression and anxiety. CPSL Mind is the only organisation who truly help people and give their hand to help pull them up.”
This year, in 2019, the couple finally received the news they were hoping for – they have been granted leave to remain in the UK. The first two people they told about this news were the staff at CPSL Mind who supported them. “We will always remember CPSL Mind and how they helped change our lives.”
This is a huge step which will allow them to work and start building their life together in the UK. After nearly 10 years of struggling, their perseverance and spirit has paid off and we wish them all the best with their lives together.