I AM a young person seeking asylum in the UK. I hope I speak on behalf of all asylum seekers in the North-East.

We were forced to flee our countries due to slavery, political unrest, war, discrimination.

We are voters and future voters, but we feel our voices are not heard. The General Election is critical for us. The next Government must commit to make life better for people seeking asylum.

Safe and legal routes are needed so people fleeing horror don’t have to put their lives in danger to find refuge. People are losing their lives.

Give us the right to work. We have useful skills we can use to benefit the country but we are not allowed to work while we wait, sometimes for years, for a decision on our asylum claim. Not being able to work is demoralising, isolating and forces us to live in poverty.

Let us study. We are young, intelligent and ambitious, and we want to educate ourselves and follow our dreams.

We need quicker access to support to help us keep a roof over our heads. It’s not easy arriving in a new country, often alone, with no money, no home but with the heavy baggage of our past.

We want to tell the General Election candidates that most of us who come from Commonwealth countries can vote. We are humans like everybody else. Our life isn’t easy. We appreciate your kindness and gratitude. Please talk about us openly. We are here to share with you if you need to know about us.

These changes would ensure refugees and people seeking asylum could integrate and rebuild their lives. We are your neighbours and we are part of your cities. Stand with us and ask the government to help those seeking safety in Britain.

Name supplied, Newcastle