Parveen Begum Ashraf: Eulogy

10 December 2020

Parveen Begum Ashraf, aged 52, died of a heart attack on 25 November in Glasgow.

Estranged from her family in Pakistan, Parveen suffered several years of poverty and destitution in Glasgow while trying to resolve her asylum status. Like many people seeking asylum getting a decision on a complex case can take years.

Parveen was supported by Positive Action in Housing’s Room for Refugees programme. She stayed with a series of volunteer hosts in 2017/18 after being referred by the British Red Cross. She also received support from our Emergency Relief Fund because she was effectively destitute, was banned by the Home Office from working and received no money to live on. In the last 18 months or so, she was given emergency Home Office accommodation via Mears.

At the time of her death, Parveen was still dependent on Home Office support and waiting for an asylum decision. She suffered a lot of stress because of the uncertainty of not knowing if she would be granted leave to remain. She also suffered from diabetes and underlying health conditions.

Forensic Psychologist Elise Birks lives in the southside of Glasgow, she hosted Parveen in her home for a short period. She said:

“Parveen only stayed with me for a brief time. Her English was limited, but I got a sense that she had very few genuine connections in the world and the language barrier added to this sense of isolation. Her life seemed moreover an existence, attempting to scrape together what she needed to keep going in the hope she would one day achieve basic goals like a home and some sense of belonging. She was dignified, quiet and unassuming and I suppose easy for society to not notice or reach out to were it not for organisations like Positive Action in Housing or the Red Cross. I was shocked and greatly saddened to hear of her recent death. Rest in peace, Parveen.”

Cathy and Patrick Corless from Anniesland, Glasgow also hosted Parveen. Cathy, a counsellor, said:

“I met Parveen in September 2017, shortly before she came to stay with me and my husband. She surprised me by greeting me straight away with a big hug. This was a glimpse into her warm personality. Parveen wasn’t with us for long but we quickly learned that she was very easy to be around. She seemed always stoic, cheerful, and grateful for the smallest of things. We couldn’t communicate much but we know she had friends that made her very happy by giving her a small Ipad so she could watch her soap operas from Pakistan. And we also learned some of how generous she was when she insisted on sharing her food from the foodbank with us. It is a loss to anyone that met her that Parveen has passed away. We will be praying for her rest in the next life and the comfort of the friends she has left behind”.

Ruth Campbell lives in the Southside of Glasgow, and also hosted Parveen. She said:

“Parveen stayed with me for around a month, in the summer of 2017. Parveen was a very gentle woman, always greeting me with an open and warm smile despite the difficulties she was facing. She was a lovely guest, and a pleasure to host. One special memory I have of Parveen is the time she took to show me how to write a few words in her own language, including my own name. That was a very special way to learn a little about Parveen and to share some time together. I was very sorry to hear of Parveen’s passing.”

Writing on Facebook, another person who knew her said:

“Inna lillahi wa inna illahi rajioun. I remember a friend of my mum’s bringing Aunty Parveen over to our house during my big sister’s wedding time and she was the warmest and kindest person. She loved singing along at all the dohlkis and being around everyone. My heart feels so broken right now.”

Parveen Begum Ashraf received an Islamic burial via Masjid Khizra on 28 November. We are writing this so people know that Parveen lived, she suffered immensely because of the asylum policy in this country, and so that she does not just die invisible to the world.

Robina Qureshi

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