Rising numbers of newly granted refugees are becoming homeless
Over the last few years, at Boaz we have seen an increase in the number of refugees who have been referred to us for accommodation and support after being granted leave to remain. One of the main reasons for this is that after receiving a positive decision on their asylum claim, a refugee has just 28 days to get everything in place (accommodation, employment or benefits just to start with) before they are evicted from their Home Office accommodation and their financial (asylum) support ceases.
Our practical response to the rise in demand
In practice, this has meant that our winter night shelter, which was primarily for men whose asylum applications had been refused, has seen a growing number of new refugees staying. In winter 2018-19, for example, 42% of our guests had been granted leave to remain through the asylum process. It has also led to us developing and expanding our accommodation and support package for refugees, so that we now have 10 houses for refugees who have become homeless after being granted status.
Longer lasting policy change is needed
We can keep on expanding our work in this way, but we know that it would be much better if policies and practices at a local and national level were changed so that refugees were not left homeless. It’s hard to do this on our own though, so we’re really grateful to be part of NACCOM- a national organisation with over 100 full time and associate members who provide accommodation and support for destitute migrants around the UK.
Two years ago, we worked with NACCOM on their Mind the Gap report. Since then, there have been several encouraging things that have happened. A local MP, Kate Green used the findings (including our own stats and case study) to raise a debate in Parliament on the refugee move on period, and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ending Homelessness recognised the issue of the 28 day refugee move on period and committed to ending refugee homelessness as one of its campaign goals for the year ahead.
It was great to be able to follow up this initial report up by participating in the research for Mind the Gap: One Year On, which NACCOM launched in Refugee Week 2019. The report makes lots of very practical recommendations for example increasing the practical support available for new refugees, extending the 28 day move on period, and a call for more transparent monitoring and sharing of information on any changes that have been implemented or are planned. All of these would make a huge difference to many of the people we work with, and it was great to read coverage of the report in the Independent.
Ending destitution- together.
Our purpose here at Boaz is to end destitution among asylum seekers and refugees and this will only happen through a mix of practical action alongside changes to policy and practice. We’re really grateful to NACCOM for giving us and our clients a chance to share experiences and lessons so that hopefully we can move closer to seeing our purpose fulfilled.