The Step Change Consortium is a Lottery-Funded programme connecting 11 charities and an experts by experience group, aiming to develop a joined-up, sustainable network of support for refugees and people seeking asylum in Greater Manchester.
Greater Manchester has the second highest number of people living in dispersal accommodation after claiming asylum and across the ten boroughs there is a diverse range of place-based projects seeking to offer support.
Despite this, time and again people seeking safety have told us that they simply didn’t know about the support that was available to them after arriving in their new community. This leads to isolation and loneliness, and it can impact physical and mental health as well as delaying access to justice, as people are unable to get to crucial, specialist, legal or medical services.
This new report released by Step Change combines user research with the Experts by Experience group, along with interviews and desk based research that maps existing service provision, service directories and referral mechanisms in Greater Manchester.
The research identifies several gaps, challenges and opportunities, and presents three key findings which are hindering the provision of a joined up eco-system of support across the region:
- Poor quality and availability of information about services
- Insufficient services in relation to demand
- Barriers accessing services including referral pathways
These findings reflect our own experience and learning here at Boaz and they confirm to us again the urgent need for our safe, stable housing, specialist, person-centred support and for proactive partnership working across the region.
According to the report, “the most frequent presenting issues at Step Change Hubs are for asylum support, homelessness, move-on and legal advice, and the most frequent unmet needs reported are for housing (for people who have had their asylum claim refused and recently recognised refugees), legal advice and counselling/therapy.”
The two key groups reported to have frequently unmet needs for housing directly reflect those Boaz supports through accommodation - people who have had their asylum claim refused and people with refugee status.
As an organisation that not only provides accommodation but also helps people to access (among other things) legal advice and mental health services, this report shows the clear and urgent need for our work with people who have been granted leave to remain and those who are still trying to secure their immigration status.
We’re proud to be a member of the Step Change Consortium and to be playing our part in improving systems and processes in our region. We believe that through this vital work people seeking safety will no longer have to live with fear, confusion and loneliness for months at a time, without any access to the support that they desperately need.