Newly established refugees are being left destitute, without basic needs such as food and shelter met, a new British Red Cross report reveals today.
The report finds bureaucratic delays and red tape prevent refugees from finding work and accessing vital benefits.
The study investigates the transition period, for a person who receives support while their asylum claim is being assessed, that occurs once they are granted refugee status and are entitled to mainstream benefits.
The British Red Cross report that one in five destitute people who come to them in crisis and seeking support are people with new refugee status. The organisation cites many factors that create this problem, including poor training of job centre staff and vital documents required by the refugee disappearing in the post. It suggests some simple changes to the current system to counter these issues and the harmful knock-on effects.
Refugee Action’s Strategy Development Manager Tim Hilton comments:
“What should rightly be a time of relief; when someone who has fled violence, persecution and trauma can begin to build a new life in the country that has granted them ‘safety’ often swiftly becomes a time of confusion and desperation. People end up on the streets, homeless and extremely vulnerable. Our system fails them by not providing the adequate support and information they need to move on to the next phase in their new life in this country.”
“Refugee Action wholeheartedly welcomes this report. It adds to the existing evidence suggesting that this is a real humanitarian crisis being created by the government due to our inefficient and ineffective asylum system. Working with refugees and asylum seekers every day, we see the additional hardship and trauma that often occurs during the weeks and months after a person is granted status. We fully support the recommendations made by the British Red Cross in the 'move-on period' report.”
Syamend, a young refugee who survived war, fleeing Syria in the summer of 2013, is one example of someone who suffered during the transition period. Granted refugee status a few months after arriving in the UK, young Syamend swiftly found himself destitute on the streets of Manchester and came to Refugee Action for help.
Syamend told us: “All I had was a bag with a few possessions; no money or food. I started asking people I’d only recently made friends with to help me buy food and I promised I would pay them later. I couldn’t stop worrying.”
An Arabic-speaking caseworker helped Syamend understand what was expected of him and helped set up an appointment at a Job Centre. A volunteer found Syamend a place in a hostel where he now stays and receives support while studying English.
“All I want is to be a normal human being with a job and to be reunited with my family” says Syamend.
Read more of Syamend’s story and find out more how Refugee Action supports destitute refugees and asylum seekers on our website.