Mohammad is 16 and speaks very little English. He had been given
indefinite leave to remain in this country when he arrived in 2003
from Sri Lanka to be with his elder brother. After meeting with him
for the first time, I felt anxious as I realised the enormous task
of communicating with him effectively. I decided to arrange our
next appointment with a Tamil speaking translator from the local
Through the translator, Mohammad explained that a short while
after he had arrived in England his brother had been murdered. He
had been given no support from social services as he had been taken
in by a family friend, who soon after had been unable to provide
him with full-time accommodation or give him any money.
Mohammad had applied for benefits as he was unable to support
himself due to his age and lack of ability to speak English. He
received a letter of refusal and unbeknown to him, he had signed a
statement that said that he was fully supported by the family
I could see that we needed to organise some financial support
for him as a matter of priority so he could obtain housing before
hopefully starting in education in September.
I was concerned that although Mohammad was estranged from his
family at the age of 16, he had been denied any financial support.
I decided that having the translator with me was an opportune time
to visit the social security office to make enquiries.
When we arrived, I expressed my disappointment that Mohammad had
been asked to sign a statement when it was obvious that he could
not understand English. I explained that he was no longer supported
by the family friend and that he had been asked to leave his home.
Because he is estranged from his family and any other support they
agreed to allow Mohammad to re-apply for income support.
When I left Mohammad I felt a sense of relief for him and I felt
proud that I had been able to help him. Although I have only begun
to help, I felt that being there for him has given him some hope
for the future.