Newly recognised refugees face homelessness and destitution

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08 Sep 2017

A new survey, commissioned by the Guardian and published by the Refugee Council today, has found high levels of homelessness and destitution among refugees shortly after they have been granted their refugee status.

As government support is rapidly cut off after somebody receives status, refugees can find themselves homeless, forced to rely charities, friend, families and foodbanks to meet their basic needs.

One refugee summed up their experience by saying that “the government grants refugee status without granting refuge”.

 

The Refugee Council conducted a survey of 54 refugees who had been granted status since 2016, and found that:

  • Of the 54 respondents to the survey more than half, 31, slept rough or in a hostel or night shelter in the period after they were granted refugee status. 
  • None of the people who were living in asylum support accommodation had managed to find secure accommodation by the time they were evicted at the end of the move on period.
  • Most of these newly recognised refugees were forced to rely on charities, friends and family, and foodbanks once their asylum support payments were terminated as Home Office support dropped away and employment had not been secured.
  • 30 people reported feeling uncomfortable about relying on others for food, money or accommodation, and 12 said they felt unsafe.
  • Many respondents reported negative feelings after being granted refugee status, and one reported multiple suicide attempts.
  • Participants reported high levels of loneliness and isolation.

Refugees who arrive in the UK through formal resettlement schemes, such as the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, benefit from tailored support to help their integration and have accommodation secured before they arrive. In stark contrast, refugees who have arrived in the UK independently have their support withdrawn within 28 days of being granted refugee status, leaving them at real risk of homelessness and destitution.

The Refugee Council’s Director of Advocacy, Lisa Doyle, said:

The findings of this survey add to a growing body of evidence that shows the many newly recognised refugees become homeless and destitute at the point when our government has committed to protect them.

"Instead of this being a time of relief and happiness for refugees, quite often the opposite is true as they find themselves without anywhere to live and relying on the charity of others to survive.

"The Government must not turn its back on the very people it has decided need its protection and must urgently review the current system to ensure that refugees are not left unsupported.”