I’ll never forget that fateful day back in 2007 when I was suddenly and without warning, arrested under the prevention of terrorism act and subsequently remanded in custody. I always used to think that this kind of nightmare scenario only happened to other people. I never in a million years ever imagined it would happen to me – but it did and it very nearly ruined me had HHUGS not stepped in.
For the next three years, my life was turned upside down until finally in 2010, the prosecution realised they had no case against me and all charges were dropped. At the time of my arrest I had a 3 year old, 13 month old and my wife was 6 months pregnant.
During this time, I spent approximately 3 months as a CAT A prisoner and eventually received bail. My bail conditions were very strict and for the next 3 years I was subjected to a timed curfew, a tag which I had to wear all the time, daily reports at the local Police station, regular stressful court visits and a ban on travel among many other things.
I never anticipated the full extent of the psychological impact my situation would have on my wellbeing and my family until I tried to resume normal life. I lost my job as an IT/Admin officer and couldn’t get any other work due to my situation. The financial and emotional stress really took its toll on me and I fell into deep depression, losing all hope and confidence within myself.
I was terrified at the thought of facing a 10 year jail sentence – and all because I helped my friend (a fellow British Muslim citizen) get his own life on track. Unfortunately, the state considered him to be a threat, which is how I got myself into this situation in the first place. All charges and allegations were eventually dropped against him.
After 3 years of living like this, I was given my life back. I literally felt as if a huge padlock had been unlocked from my neck the day the case was dropped. For the time I was in this situation, I was unable to do anything. I had no money and was psychologically traumatized.
Getting my life back was a huge mental challenge which I had to overcome. I might not have been a prisoner any more, but I was prisoner of my own fears and emotional distress. Despite no longer having any daily reporting or travel constrictions upon me, I was too scared to venture far from my home. I kept feeling the need to report to the Police station daily – because it felt like something was missing from my day.
My leg felt naked without the plastic shackle I had been forced to wear every day for 3 years. My children would ask me where my ‘bracelet’ had gone as they had never seen me without it.
The psychological stress had taken its toll on my family. I felt as if the government had left me to die – there was no rehabilitation program or service to help me get my confidence back and integrate me back into society and working life.
Alhamdulilah, it was during this time that I leaned heavily on HHUGS for support in every area of my life. They encouraged me to retrain in IT, funding the courses necessary for me to be able to work again. Even though I had lost my confidence and doubted my ability to find a suitable job, my HHUGS representatives continually pushed and motivated me throughout the employment process. Thanks to their invaluable support, I was finally able to start working again.
I sincerely believe that if it hadn’t been for HHUGS, I would have struggled to get back on my own two feet and support my wife and children again. I can honestly say that Allah helped me through my hard times by sending me practical help and support through HHUGS.
Without them, I probably wouldn’t have survived the emotional trauma I went through. For this reason, I’m now a lifelong supporter and fundraiser for HHUGS, and encourage everyone else to do the same. After all, nobody ever thinks this could happen to them. But it does – and I’m living proof of that.