Homelessness services are well aware that refugees often struggle with accessing decent housing.
Every year on 20th June, we mark World Refugee Day. An international day when we celebrate the strength and courage of people who have fled their home country due to violence or persecution. This day gives us the opportunity to focus on how we should build empathy and understanding for those who have made the difficult decision to seek sanctuary in the UK.
The path to obtaining refugee status can be difficult. Generally (and simplistically), someone seeking refuge in the UK must go through the asylum-seeking process. During this process, the Home Office determine whether an asylum application should receive a positive or negative decision. Many asylum seekers have numerous hurdles to overcome during this period. Unfortunately, these hurdles do not disappear for those granted refugee status. For one, the already minimal asylum support offered by government is withdrawn 28 days after notice of a positive decision is communicated. This means at this point, many newly recognised refugees, if they aren't already, experience homelessness and/or destitution.
Facts like these and the current hostile landscape created by restrictive government policies leave many people feeling hopeless, frustrated, and defeated by the chaotic system. Despite this, we know that there are organisations across the country dedicated to supporting asylum seekers and refugees when no one else can.
Homeless Link member, The Kings Arm Project (KAP) is an organisation that exemplifies this “hope for everyone always” through its support services across Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire. Established in 2016 in response to the conflict in Syria, KAP refuse to give up on anyone. They ensure refugee families who have been resettled through the UK resettlement scheme (UKRS) and the Afghan resettlement schemes have access to holistic speciality casework.
KAPs services include,
- specialist advice including immigration advice from OISC qualified immigration advisers,
- a helpline for vulnerable migrants, and
- English language classes and an English language club.
Although KAP face challenges like other support organisations, they have supported countless people including, victims of trafficking, asylum seekers with complex health issues, and refugees like Mr and Mrs A to resettle in the UK.
"Mr A and Mrs A and their children were a happy and stable family in Syria. When the war started, Mr A was arrested and tortured. As a result, the family had to flee to a neighbouring country for safety where living conditions were poor and there was no prospect of stability or a future for them.
The family were resettled in the UK in 2021 right in the middle of COVID pandemic… In the first few months, it was not easy for the family to settle. [KAP] worked closely with the family to support them to start new life in the UK. Through KAPs support and advocacy, the family have now settled well, Mr A now has his own successful small business and they [the family] are very popular among their neighbours."
Through their work, KAP have learnt that supporting refugees and migrants is specialist work that must be person-centred, trauma informed, empowering, and compassionate. Adopting a holistic approach that encompass these principles is crucial for the KAP team as it puts control back in the hands of people who have had extremely distressing experiences.
Homeless Link are proud that members like KAP are there to give hope to refugees, and show that despite the changing landscape, there are still options for services. Service providers supporting refugees and asylum seekers can…
- be empathetic, understanding, respectful and promote a culture of welcome,
- keep up to date with migrant services and signpost people to these services (useful links: NACCOM, Migrant Help, Praxis and Refugee Council).
- read our roadmap report to find out what local authorities should be doing to support asylum seekers, refugees, and those with undetermined status,
- hold to account and influence local authorities to make changes,
- help us to influence government by letting us know how policy changes are impacting services and the people you support.