Bilal tells us about his story and his amazing news:
This month I have had a double celebration. I have turned 18 and I’ve just been given the right to remain here in this country. Thanks to Safe Passage’s help I can finally call the UK home, I feel really welcomed.
My story starts back in the spring of 2015 when my family and I were forced to leave bombed-out Aleppo, we left for the countryside in the West. But even there it wasn’t safe. In May that year, my family and I decided I should leave Syria. At 16-years-old, I left my family and I haven’t seen them since.
I travelled through Turkey to the Greek border. As I can’t swim I tried to get to Europe by land but failed. My only option was to get in an overcrowded inflatable dinghy. I knew if the boat sank I would die, but this was my only choice. There was only a dark future for me if I returned to Syria.
I travelled on illegally through dozens of European countries, I was determined to get to the UK where I could speak the language and get a good education.
After a year of travelling, I finally reached the Calais “Jungle”, I was nearly there. Every day, month after month I tried to cross the Channel by hitchhiking, jumping on lorries or paying smugglers. I had no luck.It wasn’t until
October last year, 17-months after my journey started, that I met volunteers from Safe Passage. They helped find a legal route for me to get to the UK, to start my new life – just as the Jungle was being demolished. To them, I am so incredibly grateful.
I’ve been in the UK for 10 months now, I can now see a future ahead of me. I have a foster family, I’ve been perfecting my English. Now it’s the summer holidays and I’m getting ready to start studying politics at uni with the scholarship I’ve been awarded
For the first time in years, I can finally say I’m happy. I know I’m the lucky one, there’s still my family
in danger in Syria (who I worry about every day) as well as the thousands of lone child refugees in Europe that I met on my journey.
That’s why, alongside my studies, I have decided to help others like me through Safe Passage (I’ve even been on TV like in the picture below). So far they have helped find routes to safety for 1,150 children. I am sure with support from you and I they can help many more.