He fled torture in Ethiopia .
Now refugee Abiey Legesse has revealed the struggle he faced in his desperate 11 year bid to be granted asylum in the UK as part of the national Refugee Week.
Abiey, 47, works as a development worker at Destitute Asylum Seekers Huddersfield (DASH).
“I never wanted to leave my country”, said Abiey, 47, a former owner of a travel agency.
“I fled Addis Abbaba in 2004, because my life was in danger.
“I had to leave behind my wife Rachel and son Mikias, who was only three at the time.
“It’s been incredibly hard without them.”
Abiey’s body is flanked with scars from injuries caused by torture in the country but he would not reveal exactly what had happened to him out of fear.
He crossed to Kenya, where he was placed in a massive refugee camp called Kakuma.
“The living conditions were horrendous. But I found a job as a high school English teacher which helped pass the time.”
In 2009 he was granted a scholarship to study for an MA in international human resources management at Glasgow Caledonian University.
“But when I finished in 2012 I became scared that the Home Office would try and deport me so I didn’t know who I could turn to for help.
He went to Ireland but was placed in a detention centre for six months before being repatriated to the UK.
“But because I’d been in the UK first they couldn’t process my claim.
“I was brought to Huddersfield and a tribunal hearing was arranged.
“I had to represent myself which was very scary.
“They didn’t look into my case properly and said I didn’t have enough evidence.
“I don’t think people understand how hard it is to keep important documents safe when you are travelling as a refugee.”
When his claim failed he sought help from DASH.
“I was so depressed.
“I had no one to talk to, trust or who would even listen to me so DASH was a lifesaver.
“I began volunteering with them– helping others helped me.”
They helped him gain a report from the Medical Foundation which confirmed he had been tortured and that he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
But this was thrown out in Abiey’s appeal case.
Determined, they helped him put in a fresh claim.
“I applied for work because the Home Office took over one year to make a decision but was only offered jobs with expertise I didn’t have– a ballet dancer was one!
“I wish they allowed people to work to keep them occupied. It would mean they wouldn’t have to rely on the £35 support too.”
Despite gaining more evidence including from a specialist doctor at Leeds General Infirmary his claim was yet again refused.
“I was finally accepted on appeal thanks to a letter from my GP in December 2015.
“Sadly there’s a culture of disbelief at the Home Office.
“I understand it’s hard for them to decide who’s telling the truth but in my experience with DASH 99 per cent are genuine.
“When people flee their country to escape danger they leave everything they know and love behind and risk their own lives in the process.
It’s not a decision people take lightly.”
Now Abiey has five years to remain.
“I really want to get on with my life and re-start my career, probably in the NGO sector.
“I’ve applied for my wife and children to come to England with the help of Red Cross but this could take months.
“But the whole process has had a massive effect on me.
“I find it hard to trust others now and because of what I’ve been through I feel like part of me is dead.”