young man leaning against railings

Haile's story

Haile* had a choice: either leave his home country or be forced to join the military.

Haile grew up in Eritrea, Africa, but had to leave aged just 17. There was a serious risk that when he turned 18 he would be made to join the army. The UK was chosen for Haile as a place to take refuge, so he embarked on a journey here which took almost six months. 

‘Talking to people was hard…’

Haile arrived in Nottingham and had difficulty fitting in at first. He was placed with a family in the countryside but was unhappy there. He asked his social worker if he could live closer to the city.

At this point, Haile was worried about his ability to communicate. He recalls:

“I found it very difficult to speak English so talking to people was hard”.

With the help of an interpreter and his social worker, Haile found out about Nottinghamshire YMCA, a project funded by LandAid. He was curious so went to visit. His first impression was very positive:

“I was so happy when I met with the staff, the accommodation was in the city centre and I would have my own private space and independence”.

Haile moved into a room in the YMCA and the staff helped him settle into his new life. They assisted him with getting to know the local area, and helped him keep in touch with his friends and family back home. 

‘I could begin to talk to others without needing an interpreter…’

As Haile began to feel more comfortable, he started to socialise more. Soon, he was attending local groups for young people and people from his home country and going for weekends away. He also started a course to support his English speaking and understanding. He recalls:

“I enjoyed this as it meant I could begin to talk to others without needing an interpreter”.

Haile received a lot of support with getting his refugee status and now is able to remain here for the next five years. He continues to miss his family but feels far more at home. He knows he has the support he needs, has made lots of new friends and is looking forward to the future.  

*Haile's name has been changed and a model was used in the photo to protect his anonymity.