What’s it like to get a place on Bootcamp

Mohaned is a lawyer from Sudan, who seeked asylum in the UK a few months before applying for Campaign Bootcamp. We talk to him about his experience applying for Bootcamp.

What was the application process like?
Even though the application process is clear and easy I was not sure I could do it by myself, so a colleague at Migration Asylum Justice Forum (MAJF) helped me.

How did you find the selection interview?
I was surprised when I received a message for the interview; I thought I would not get this opportunity. All my fear was gone when I started talking to friendly interviewers and I felt so comfortable.

What were you doing before Bootcamp?
I had been a human rights lawyer since 2005 until I flew to the UK in April 2018. As soon as I came to Newcastle, I joined MAJF. MAJF has organised rallies against the immigration laws of 2014 and 2016. We have protested against charter flight deportations, immigration detention, unlawful electronic tagging and immigration charges in healthcare. We are currently focused on issues in asylum housing where private companies like G4S and Jomast make profits from housing asylum seekers in overcrowded poor conditions.

How did you find out you got a place on Bootcamp? How did you feel?
I was not surprised; I felt from the interview I will get this opportunity as I felt Bootcamp interviewers were fair and have a deep understanding of the situation of asylum seekers as well as human rights issues in general. I was so glad to hear I got a place at Bootcamp and was very excited to start the training.

What did you like about at Bootcamp?
All the activities were useful, but for me, the most interesting workshop was the strategy workshop, where we learn about how to run a campaign in a strategic way. I think that the most important thing is the way that Bootcamp delivers information for all different types of people. I have been doing trainings for a long time as a lawyer, but I found Bootcamp’s teaching style to be different. Of course! I did make good friends especially from my home group – we are in touch daily.

Why do you campaign for asylum seekers?
As an asylum seeker, I went through a very difficult time. Asylum seekers are one of the most vulnerable groups. They are living in bad conditions, and most of them afraid to speak out as they think this may affect their asylum claims and lead to deport them back. That is why I decided to take part in MAJF and then to apply for Bootcamp.

There is no wrong in fighting for your rights and on behalf of others who can’t fight. That’s a message for everyone. Since I arrived In Newcastle, I took part in many demonstrations and activities. This doesn’t affect my asylum claim as I was granted my refugee status last month and will carry on campaigning for those who can’t.

What have you been doing since Bootcamp?
I believe asylum seekers and migrants should have the same rights as any other citizen and campaign to expose their treatment, demanding equality. In this, we have worked with the local council to try to get bedroom sharing banned in asylum accommodation and to improve the conditions for women and children’s accommodation. We even went to a property tribunal – we are still fighting this because the new contracts for asylum accommodation are due to be finalised at the end of the year. We are also campaigning to get some scholarships for asylum seekers in more North East universities as only Middlesbrough currently offer spaces and many asylum seekers are blocked from studying in our region.

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