Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Local support for refugees now needs to extend to providing a temporary home for those granted leave to stay and promptly evicted from Home Office-funded accommodation.

Providing a helping hand for refugees granted leave to stay

The Home Office’s decision to promptly turf out asylum-seekers given leave to stay from the accommodation provided while their claims were being considered is creating destitution on a potentially mass scale, Felicity Laurence reports. Stepping into the breach are Refugees at Home, a hosting charity, and Hastings own Links project.

The Home Office has recently and very rapidly sped up its asylum process for people arriving from a number of countries, such as Afghanistan and Sudan, which are in desperate and lethal turmoil. Here in Hastings, there are young people who fled war and atrocity in these countries, and who are now starting to receive notice from the Home Office that they are allowed to stay.

While most will move to other places where they have family and friends, some are hoping to remain in Hastings, where they have received so much support and  kindness. Now, with their asylum claims suddenly being granted, they have the chance to make a new, safe life with us here, to enter the work force and to contribute to their new community.

However, they are required to leave the accommodation provided by the Home Office within a very short time, during which they are supposed to set up all their ‘infrastructure’, including finding a job and somewhere to live. The 28 days allowed until recently was itself simply not enough time, and in past years many ended up street homeless. In 2018, the Red Cross produced a compelling report, The costs of destitution, with research showing that extending that period to 56 days would not only alleviate unnecessary distress and suffering, but would in fact save the public purse between £4m and £7m annually.

But right now, far from extending that period, the Home Office has changed the rules again to reduce it further, and some people face being turned out in as little as seven days. These new rules are already resulting in destitution and homelessness – at the very time that should be positive and full of hope for a new future. In their most recent update posted on 5 October, the Red Cross projects the astounding figure of 50,000 people newly granted asylum being made homeless by the end of the year.

“Since the changes to the move-on process at the beginning of August 2023, British Red Cross Refugee services have seen a 140% increase in destitution for people they support with refugee status,” the report says.

“Across the UK, our caseworkers are having to hand out sleeping bags and tents to people who have recently been granted refugee status but now face life on the streets…

“As the government promises to process all legacy asylum claims made before 28 June 2022 by the end of the year, our new projections show that a further 50,000 people could also be made homeless.”

As before, the Red Cross are joined in their desperate and urgent concern at this situation by all of the other NGOs that support refugees.

Links steps in

Here in Hastings, many of the young men currently in hotel accommodation face the same prospect.  The Links Project, run through Hastings Voluntary Association (HVA), is already helping them to promptly set up their claims for Universal Credit to tide them over until they find work, and with all the other bureaucratic processes they must now go through.

An employment team is working effectively with local businesses to help find employment for those who want to stay here, and in general, Links is offering invaluable help and advice throughout. The need for this will increase over the next few weeks.

But it takes at least 35 days to start getting Universal Credit, with no source of income whatsoever from the time they are forced to leave Home Office accommodation. This is when they risk becoming street homeless, which in turn slows down hugely their move into work, and the transition to living a new life in their new community. As the Red Cross further states: “The mental health impact of this is shocking. For people going through the asylum system, this next step is deeply demoralising.”

Local councils receive minimal or no support from Government to deal with this worsening crisis, willing as they may be to help.

Invitation to help

One way of alleviating this situation is through Refugees at Home, the “UK’s largest independent hosting charity”, which invites people with a spare room to become hosts for a finite period of time. Since their inception in 2016, their track record in providing a safe place for that first move-on period is remarkable.

At the moment, Refugees at Home are under huge pressure and are urgently seeking new hosts all over the country. Their updated information can be seen here. They are currently offering placements to guests for a maximum of one month, so that as many people can be helped as possible. While  hosts can commit to hosting for as little or as long as they wish, and are always in control of how long they commit to hosting, guests will be offered a maximum of one month’s accommodation, with one or possibly more hosts.

If you have a spare room, and you think this might be something to consider, excellent guidance is given on the Refugees at Home website, where you can signal your interest, state your specific criteria and apply. A host’s basic commitment is to provide a safe, clean room to sleep, and access to a bathroom and kitchen. Other arrangements are flexible – some hosts like to include their guests in meals and activities, while others keep on leading their busy lives with the guest remaining quite independent.

Refugees at Home provides a small weekly amount to the guest until the Universal Credit arrives, and, crucially, will be in constant touch to support both host and guest.

The team at the Links Project is committed to dealing with all of the various official requirements, and hosts are expected to have no input into this aspect of the process, even where they may have professional experience. Links will also work with the council in any way possible to help find accommodation, and with the guest to maintain and develop their move-on plan.

In this way, hosting becomes a short term ‘stop-gap’ helping hand to extend the move-on period for these young people whose lives have been so disrupted, and to enable them to avoid the destitution that might finally destroy their chances of becoming the active contributors to our society that they all so keenly wish to do.


If you have been accepted as a host by Refugees at Home,  please contact Marc Turczanski at the Links Project by email so that the Links team can stand ready to support your guest, as described above.


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Posted 12:32 Wednesday, Nov 8, 2023 In: Society

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