By Adrian Hawkes, Special to ASSIST News Service
LONDON, UK (ANS – May 18, 2016) – I work in the UK with my wife, Pauline, to help UAM’s (Unaccompanied Minors), young people aged16 or 17 years who are in the UK without parents or guardians. They are usually running away from war and mayhem in countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, and the like.
To do this, we currently use around 10 houses for their accommodation, and we employ key workers and social workers to help and settle these young people in a bid to give them future hope. Often they are vulnerable and can be traumatized from what they have experienced in these violent war-zones.
Over the years, we have bought these houses on what’s called here “Interest-Only Mortgages”, in which we, the borrower, only pays the interest on the mortgage through monthly payments for a term that is fixed on the loan.
However, eventually these “Interest-Only Mortgages” come to an end and you have to then pay the whole amount back to the company or find a new loan company and start again.
I was aware of this and I had been in close contact with our bankers, and Pauline had also been in close touch with the original lending companies who were being helpful.
Then, one day, Pauline received a phone call from our maintenance manager who visits each house at least once a week, and she told my wife that she had found a letter that had been “thrown into the bin” unopened”. It was addressed to Pauline, and so my wife asked the manager to open it and read it to her. She was horrified when it turned out to be a court summons for a court repossession order for this particular house.
Pauline tried talking to the company, but they apparently were not interested and one of their staff told her curtly, “We are taking you to court”.
On the day of the court hearing, we talked briefly with the prosecuting solicitor [attorney], and then took advice from the duty solicitor who was there to help us. But, when he saw who the prosecutor was, he said, “I will do my best for you, but you need to know that he represents a company that buys up other loan companies and they make their money by court orders and repossessions, and unfortunately the law is on his side. You don’t really stand a chance.”
We filed into court and, as this property was in Pauline’s name, I was told to sit at the back of the court. The judge then asked the prosecutor what he wanted and pointing to Pauline, he said, “I want a court order against this lady”. Our solicitor did his best to explain what the house was being used for, but the judge wasn’t having any of it and said, “I am sorry, but the law is on the prosecutors’ side”. I then saw Pauline urgently speaking to our solicitor, and later she told me that, as she sat there in court, she began thinking, “We have done nothing wrong. God is in this”, and also, “This should not happen like this”. The judge noticed the conversation and asked what was “going on”, and so our solicitor explained to the judge that his client wanted to address the court, but he added: “I explained to her that she couldn’t, as that was my job”. The judge suddenly softened and responded with, “Well, I want to hear what she has to say”.
Pauline explained that “vulnerable and traumatized young people from terrible situations” were living in the house, and so the judge then asked her what she wanted to happen. Pauline said, “I don’t want a court order as that hurts us. I will arrange to repay the mortgage”. The judge then shocked us when he said, “OK. No court order. Pay the mortgage in 28 days. That’s the end of it”. The stunned prosecutor jumped to his feet and said, “You cannot do that, your honor. I want that court order”. However, by now, the judge said he had made up his mind, stating firmly, “This is my court. No court order. I have decided. Case closed… next case please.”
Stunned, we moved out of the court and our solicitor said to us, “I work here every day, and I have just seen something amazing, I have never seen anything like what I have just witnessed”.
I then overheard the prosecuting solicitor on the phone to his company trying hard to explain why he didn’t get a court order; and when I took a peek, I saw that he was sweating profusely.
Walking out into the sunshine, I told Pauline, “That was great”, to which she replied, “Yes, God was definitely in that”. But still, we had just 28 days to pay £150,000 ($217,229USD), and I knew that we didn’t have it, and so I wondered what we should do now. Pauline then said, “I hadn’t thought of that. I just didn’t want that court order”.
Arriving back at our office, we called the staff together and we began discussing the situation, and then, I went to my office and, as I sat there pondering, there was a knock at the door. It was a young man, originally from Baghdad, Iraq, who, when he first arrived in the UK, we had helped to learn English.
He looked at me and then said, “Adrian, I hear that you need some money”. I nodded and then he went on to say, “When I first came to the UK and had no permission to work, I lived very frugally and saved up. I know it’s not all you need, but it might help”. He then handed me £25,000 ($36,205USD). I was speechless and his gift so inspired me. I began to think that if this young man can help us like this, maybe if I wrote to friends of our work, then they could lend us the money until the refinancing came through.
So I shared the story of my Iraqi friend, and within a short time, supporters of our ministry, lent us the money and we paid off the mortgage within 10 days. Three months later the refinancing came through and we are repaying all those kind loans.
Looking back at this amazing situation, I can say without hesitation, “God was definitely in it”, and we can continue to help these needy young people in that home.
Photo captions: 1) Unaccompanied minors escaping to an uncertain future. (AFP/Getty Images). 2) The court where it all happened. 3) Christmas at one of the homes. 4) Adrian and Pauline Hawkes.
About the writer: Adrian Hawkes is married to Pauline — Dan Wooding was best man at their wedding — and they have three children, 10 Grandchildren and two Great Grandchildren. He is still part of the Rainbow Church North London which he used to lead and he also works with Sri Lankan churches in France, Switzerland, Norway, Canada and Sri Lanka, as well as a church in Norway. He helped to form Phoenix Community Care Ltd, which looks after some main unaccompanied minors, and vulnerable adults in housing in North London; alongside his wife Pauline, he established PCC Foster Care agency and has launched London Training Consortium Ltd., which trains refugees and asylum seekers with ESOL, IT, and Literacy. He has also written various books He can be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com .
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