The film ‘Leave to Remain,’ which is released next month, follows three young people seeking asylum in the UK as result of their experiences in their own countries. The film is based on real life stories. However, these characters are completely fictional.
Dost and The Refugee Council were able to view the film before its release. The Refugee Council says, “The characters are believable and the story compelling. The vulnerabilities of the young people, as well as their individual strengths, resonate with those of us who have some insight into the world of young asylum seekers in the UK.” We agree. However, we (and no doubt other organisations supporting young refugees in the UK) anticipate being asked the question “…but how real is it?”
The short answer is that it is not real at all. We do not recognise the picture it gives of the experiences of these young people. For those whom Dost supports, life is a struggle merely to survive. Many others in similar circumstances lack even the basic support Dost can offer. In our experience, these vulnerable young people spend a great deal of time studying hard, while facing exceptional challenges at every level – practical, emotional, and psychological.
‘Leave to Remain’ gives a misleading impression of how much support is available. It also misrepresents that support. Most concerning is the portrayal of professionals such as Nigel in the film, who does the wrong thing in an attempt to help one of his young pupils. The Refugee Council says, “It is sad to see adults represented in this way when there is so much excellent work done by adults helping young people in the asylum system.”
While certain details in the film are familiar, and raise some harsh truths (e.g. treatment at the Home Office), we find the stories as told not true to the complexity and seriousness of the issues raised.
The Refugee Council have prepared a Q&A document that answers some of the key issues raised in the film. Head over to their website now to download it and find out the facts behind the fiction.