Wisdom 6 of 7 – Basic needs have to come first

“Security brings happiness.”

Throughout conversations, it was clear that, for many, the inability to meet their basic needs meant they could not think about or discuss hopes or aspirations for the future beyond obtaining housing, achieving/maintaining good health, and/or having sufficient food. Without recourse to public funds, many emphasised how not having ‘papers’ or the right to remain and work in the UK is the most important component of having a good life.

“When I became homeless, this is when I became unhappy.”

Without the freedom to make choices about their life or meet their basic needs, it seemed that some were unable to discuss what a positive future would look like. This included the need to feel safe and secure, a common theme amongst participants. For some, simply being in the UK meant they felt safer.

“It is a free country. You can do what you like.”

“All is good.”

However, not all felt this way. Many found that the waiting and worrying about immigration-related decisions, combined with the desire and inability to work or have choice and freedom in their lives, contributed to distress.

“I need a legal status to live a full life.”

“This government doesn’t listen. I am not a criminal. I want food, children and clothes. What do I do?”

Some felt unsafe due to their situation. One person described how his current accommodation seemed dangerous to him. As a result, he did not seek community and instead explained:

“I just need to look after myself.”

Others described not having somewhere to sleep as a reason for not feeling safe and a source of worry.

“I would like somewhere safe and secure to live.”

The worry about their home country and, potentially, those left behind was a significant barrier to being happy and feeling settled. For many, the worry about those left behind in their home countries seemed all-consuming. One person said that a good life would be:

“To have my mum, my sister and brother, cousin, and dog with me. To live. I worry about them all the time. [Our home country where they live] is not a good place to be.”

It is clear that, for many, these essential components of a good life, things like safety, security, and being free from worry, need to be addressed first.

“My happiness is lower because my city is bombed.”

“Money comes and goes but family is here all the time and that is why it is so important … If your family is happy, than you are happy.”