Wisdom 2 of 7 – A good life is being treated with humanity, understanding and compassion

“Where is the humanity and compassion?”

Where people interacted with systems (health, education, immigration, etc.), the way they were treated was often described as a barrier (or, sometimes, an enabler) to having a good life. Several people talked about the impact of being treated with kindness. When this was not happening, people could feel stuck and disheartened.

In a paired interview with two women, both spoke about their children struggling to adapt to UK schools. They described how their kids were not receiving enough (or any) appropriate support from the school. One stated that she had been given her kids’ school books and told to teach them herself. She explained that the teachers did not properly understand the extreme stress and trauma kids like hers have experienced coming from a country at war, stating:

“The teachers need to be more understanding.”

Another woman described the lack of humanity she had felt in dealing with immigration services. Her applications for residency had been rejected and she was threatened with deportation while going through chemotherapy. She was told they would reject future applications, even if her cancer came back. She was left wondering why she was not being treated with kindness and empathy.

“I have been in immigration for 16 years and with the Home Office for 12 years. I have been so sick due to the stress. It affected everything. I had breast cancer. We all know everything is related to stress. They tried to deport me whilst I was going through cancer treatment, chemotherapy. I had no money, no way of getting medication that I needed. They were sending me to commit suicide. It was a death sentence.”

Conversely, others described the incredibly powerful impact on their quality of life of being treated with humanity and compassion.

“In England they saved my life with the kindness they gave me. I want to return the patience and compassion. They were patient with me and I want to be patient with them … They saw something in me.”