A computer scientist with a PhD, Jack* left Iran to escape persecution but found more trouble in the UK. He slept rough in London before finding shelter with Glass Door and the help he needed to get off the streets.

Jack first travelled to London to present his research at a conference several years ago.  “I had a job, a life,” Jack recalls, pulling a photo out of his wallet of himself as a serious looking young man with a shock of dark hair wearing a suit. 

Jack, at 31 is still a young man. But now he needs crutches to walk, he’s on a battery of medicines to keep back-pain at bay, his speech is slurred, and his memory isn’t what it used to be.

 

His troubles began in Iran, his country of birth. “Because I wrote a few articles against the government promoting free-speech, they imprisoned and tortured me,” he says. The torture left him with on-going back problems.

He points to religious and ethnic reasons for his deep-rooted differences with the Iranian regime. Jack is an Iranian Azerbaijani, an ethnic minority group, and “my mother is Christian and my father is Baha’i,” he says. Jack used to hold meetings at his house for those wanting to learn more about the Baha’i faith, making him a target for a government that has a history of marginalising Iranian Baha’is. 

 

When Jack got out of prison, he was forced to give the government the deeds to his house as security that he wouldn’t flee the country.  But he knew the government would never leave him alone, so Jack travelled to London with his multiple-entry UK visa obtained as an academic.  The Iranian authorities “own the house now,” he says with a sigh.

Upon arriving in London, Jack immediately filed an asylum claim. The request was granted, and he became a citizen in 2012.

However, Jack’s troubles were not over. While living in Liverpool (where Jack moved in search of cheaper rent), he was assaulted by a gang, which left his already-battered body even more traumatised. 

Jack feared running into the gang again and fled to London. He ended up in the Glass Door shelters in the winter of 2014-2015 but needed to be transferred to hospital when it became clear he needed urgent medical attention. Jack experienced blackouts and may have suffered a stroke, which has left him with slurred speech and a numbness down his right side. “I am broken now,” he says.  

 

Our senior caseworker Neil advocated on Jack’s behalf and was able to convince the local council to grant him a flat close to his medical team.  Jack attends regular physical therapy sessions and is looking to regain some mobility and strength.  

 

Without Neil’s help, Jack says he doesn’t want to think where he would be. 

Neil helped save my life.