'I was given a pillow and told to sleep on the street' - Refugee Council
May 20, 2016

‘I was given a pillow and told to sleep on the street’

Faisal is originally from Syria. He fled to Britain on a student visa and arrived here in summer 2015. He was granted asylum last Christmas and was given 28 days to leave his asylum accommodation. Like many refugees in this situation, he found himself facing homelessness. Here, he shares his story.

When I was granted asylum, I got my letter to leave my asylum accommodation within 28 days. I was lucky in that I’d got my identity document fairly quickly, but I didn’t get my National Insurance Number until day 20, and it’s difficult to start the process at the Job Centre without it; without those documents you can’t do anything.

I went to the local council to see if they could help me find somewhere to live but they told me to come back on the same day I was evicted.

I did, but they then told me I wasn’t a priority, so wasn’t eligible for any help.

I kept phoning them every day for a month to ask them to put my name forward for emergency accommodation in a hostel and I also kept going to the hostel myself to see if they had a space but after a while I gave up. Once someone at the hostel gave me a pillow and a sleeping bag and told me I’d have to sleep on the street. It was the middle of winter.

I had no way of finding a room to rent: I didn’t have money for a deposit and agency fees are ridiculous – how is someone in my situation supposed to have that sort of money?

I’d essentially been granted asylum and then kicked out on the street.

In the meantime, l was sofa surfing with friends – but they weren’t allowed to have me in the house so I couldn’t stay long. It was an exhausting time.

Eventually a local charity—the Leicester Race Equality Centre—helped me find a place in a hostel, and now I have a room in a shared house.

Sometimes I’ve been lucky, but sometimes I haven’t been. Now, I’m lucky in that I’ve got offers from quite a few universities to finish my architecture degree in September.

You can help forgotten refugees like Faisal by:

  • Reading our eye-opening new report here and asking five friends to do the same.
  • Donating now to help refugees in Britain who find themselves hungry and homeless.