Once granted refugee status, people are promptly served with eviction notices

Once granted refugee status, people are promptly served with eviction notices
As part of their work supporting people with newly granted refugee status to access housing, healthcare, education and employment, Students and Refugees Together (START) relies heavily upon the Vicar’s Relief Fund to get people into safe accommodation, fast.

Once someone is granted a positive decision by the Home Office and officially receives refugee status, they become eligible for housing, benefits, healthcare, education and employment… and are served eviction notices by the temporary accommodation they are living in. This, in combination with the housing crisis and high levels of homelessness, mean that many refugees in Plymouth have suffered prolonged periods of rough sleeping, when they are unable to instantaneously secure themselves private rented accommodation. The Vicar’s Relief Fund (VRF) has become an essential resource for START to support these people into safe homes.

““With the recent increase in positive decisions made by the Home Office, Plymouth has seen an increased number of newly granted refugees threatened with homelessness. Many struggle with significant mental health needs and past trauma and often do not speak, read, and write English. With the odds stacked ever higher against them this and last year, the routes into settled housing are limited. Both the private rented and social housing sectors offer very short timescales to source rent in advance and deposit payments.

This is where the Vicar’s Relief Fund grant makes a vital difference to the people we work with, and the impact of their contribution is simply life changing. Because of the VRF we have been able to work very quickly in a lot of cases to secure private rented properties and try to house someone to prevent or get them off the streets as quickly as we can”

Support Worker, START

START tells us that previously, they had no problem housing people leaving their asylum accommodation into either temporary accommodation or, on occasion, straight into private rented housing. But in the past year they have experienced a complete turnaround in their work and are now approaching their first meeting with newly granted refugees by preparing them for the possibility that they will have to sleep rough before accommodation can be found. Since August last year, START staff have seen a 14-fold increase in the number of refugees who, after being granted asylum, are evicted with nowhere to sleep except on the streets or friends’ sofas.

People like Osman, who, after being granted Refugee Status, was placed in accommodation so unsuitable that it triggered his PTSD, compounding the trauma of his journey. And people like Umar, who was unable to start the job he had managed to secure for himself due to being made homeless within days of getting his Refugee Status. But you can help.

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