Do you support people who are seeking asylum or have recently been given refugee status? We have recently updated our guidance on working with refugees and people seeking asylum for homelessness services. As more people seek to settle in the UK from Afghanistan our sector can play an important role in supporting new refugees and preventing homelessness.
Seeking asylum in the UK: the bigger picture
The Home Office publishes quarterly statistics on asylum applications, decisions, asylum support and resettlement and the latest release shows that in the year to June 2021, 10,724 people were granted protection in the UK (in most cases meaning refugee status is granted). However this is a 37% decrease on the previous year with the pandemic cited as a major factor. The data also reveals that there has been a sharp rise in those accommodated by the Home Office under something known as ‘Section 98’ - short term placements in hotels for those awaiting dispersal accommodation. At the end of June 21 over 10,000 people were in Section 98 accommodation.
Support to Afghan Citizens in the UK
In response to the situation in Afghanistan, the Home Office recently outlined details of a new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) to provide resettlement in the UK for Afghans identified as most at risk, which is likely to include women and girls. Numbers given protection under this scheme will be limited though; 5,000 people in the first year and up to 20,000 over the coming years.
There is also the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) for Afghans who have supported British efforts in the Country, which launched in April 2021 and will continue alongside ACRS.
Reducing the risk of homelessness
Whilst the majority of people seeking asylum are accommodated and provided basic financial support by the Home Office whilst their applications are considered (and in some cases during appeal stages), the granting of refugee status can unfortunately lead to an increased risk of homelessness.
Refugees have the same rights and entitlements as UK nationals but their chances of homelessness and destitution are highest whilst they seek housing, employment and benefits. They may be given little notice to leave their dispersal accommodation and require new knowledge and skills to integrate into the UK effectively. On top of this, they may be managing significant health and care needs and dealing with trauma.
Homelessness agencies engaging with people seeking asylum and new refugees, play a vital role in helping them prepare for the outcome of their application. Connecting with people effectively and early on can help ensure they have realistic expectations of options available to them, as well as support to access emergency help and navigating their new life in the UK.
Our guidance includes a comprehensive list of further resources and highlights key areas where organisations can more effectively engage and support people seeking or granted asylum in the UK.