When Hiwa arrived in the UK with his wife Shaima and two children two years ago, he had no money, no home and nowhere to turn.
Hiwa and his family had left Iran to seek asylum in the UK.
Thanks to support from Concrete, Hiwa was able to find a home for his wife and children and start a brand new career.
Now he’s launched his own business, Hiwa’s Barbers, and is working hard to build a secure future for his family.
Former Refugee, Asylum and Migration Support Lead Jez worked with Hiwa and his family two years ago when they were referred to Concrete for support.
Jez offered Hiwa and Shaima practical support and guided them through the process of sorting out their finances and finding somewhere to live.
Now, just two years on, Hiwa has opened his very own barbershop where he offers haircuts and hot towel shaves seven days a week.
Jez said: “Hiwa and his wife Shaima came across from Iran to claim asylum. The process starts when they arrive in the UK and are sent to a dispersal city, one of which is Stoke-on-Trent.
“When people are seeking asylum, they’ll live in Home Office accommodation until the Home Office make a decision about their claim.
“I met Hiwa and Shaima when their asylum was granted. Once that happens you can access benefits and get support from local authorities.”
Jez helped Hiwa and Shaima set up bank accounts, apply for universal credit and find a home.
Once a home had been secured, he worked with them to open a council tax account, helped to sort out their utilities and applied for relief services such as the Big Difference scheme for a reduction in water rate.
Jez said: “Hiwa is a brilliant bloke and really hardworking.
“Within a couple of weeks of moving them into their new home it looked amazing. They took an advanced payment on their universal credit to buy furniture and paint to make it really homely.
“They were clearly working really hard to make it a home for them – it looked fantastic. They were also both very much in love and really cared for each other and their children, which was lovely to see.
“People in situations like Hiwa’s are often very determined. They have to be. What people don’t understand is that people are fleeing from horrendous situations that we just watch on the news from the comfort of our living room.
“It makes me very happy to see Hiwa take ownership of his life and build a future for his family.”
Hiwa has built on the solid foundations that Jez helped him create. Now he’s working hard on his new business.
Hiwa said: “Jez helped me with everything.
“He’s a great man and I am very grateful to him for his support.
“I couldn’t have done any of this for my family without him and Concrete.”