This International Refugee Week, we’re thinking about refugees as they endeavour to find somewhere in the UK they can refer to as ‘our home’.

Refugees have been forced to leave their home country to find safety elsewhere. However, the process of finding their home in the UK is not without challenge.

In this blog, we will highlight the additional barriers that refugees face when looking for a home. We will share data and stories of people’s experiences of homelessness as refugees.

The journey home for refugees

The journey home for refugees

On entering the UK, asylum seekers may be offered housing and money to support them whilst their asylum application is processed. However, this is temporary, and once a decision is made on their asylum status, they could be asked to move with 28 days to find elsewhere.

If they succeed in their application, asylum seekers are given refugee status and are entitled to work and receive state benefits. However, this is just the start of their journey to find a home, and could begin with the threat of homelessness. Many may only have 28 days to move out of the Home Office accommodation they’ve been able to stay in as an an asylum seeker.

Data from the UK Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, shows that more than 5,000 refugee households were classed as homeless between October and December 2023 in England. This is four times as many as in the same period in 2022 and continues the trend seen since 2020.

No access to public funds

No access to public funds

A condition of people applying for a Visa in the UK is no resource to public funds so could end up in a cycle of poverty. A report by Compas on migrant destitution, highlighted that over 100,000 are experiencing destitution in the UK, a 136% increase since 2019.

The inability to access public funds, means that individuals are having to find the money to cover the costs of visa fees and further applications for leave to stay.

All of this creates a hostile environment for migration.

How are we helping?

How are we helping?

We have set up the Pan-London Migrant Frontline Network which has been facilitated by Praxis since 2016.

Praxis offers support to frontline staff who work with people experiencing homelessness in London related to immigration status. The Pan-London Migrant Frontline Network facilitates quarterly events, which provide a regular opportunity to bring together frontline workers in London to network, share expertise, and experience, and link to decision makers.

We also fund the Pathway Legal Advice Project so that, if they are admitted to hospital, these patients can be helped into safe housing to recover. It is currently the only project of its kind linking homeless hospital patients in the UK to free immigration advice services.

We also help people experiencing homelessness directly, providing small, individual grants to remove the financial hurdles to accessing a safe home. One of these applications was from Osman who was forced to flee an abusive marriage whilst pregnant. We gave xx a grant to cover her deposit and first month’s rent, to secure a property. You can read Osman’s story here.

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