People come here to make a life for themselves. They are made destitute. The problem is that the U.K.’s border policy is designed to discourage immigration and to encourage emigration. The methodology is pretty crude — set up a hostile environment. One big plank of that is limiting immigrants’ access to income and housing. Around 6000 people a year come to the end of the asylum process and, generally because of Kafkaesque legal reasons, cannot leave the country. Finding work, at that point, is a criminal activity and state support is withdrawn. The number of homeless people in that position in Brighton is in double digits. People are street homeless. There are other reasons why your immigration status might leave you homeless. The three main reasons we come across in Brighton are as follows:
- If you are an asylum seeker you have no right to work and extremely limited state support.
- The housing that is provided is of low quality and in designated dispersal towns (read underpopulated, underfunded post-industrial cities). As a consequence, you might choose to take your chances in a more affluent area where there is more support available.
- If you recently came here from outside of the EU, but you are not a refugee – perhaps you’re on a spousal visa – you will have a right to work but, more often than not, no right to most state support. People in this category are often referred to as having “no recourse to public funds (NRPF)”.
- That is okay as long as you are in a well paying job or if you have people who can support you.
- Not so many people in that position will be paid a living wage and relationships break down without the added stress of tight finances.
- People who have no papers.
- People travel on false papers. If you’re coming from a failed state or fleeing persecution, it can be quite hard to obtain a passport.
- If there is also, as if often the case, no record of you in your home country, your claim may be refused on the grounds that you are not who you claim to be. But, you can’t be deported to a country that does not recognise you as a citizen.
- You might have come with papers, but lost them. It is hard enough to keep track of documents when your life is stable. Without documentation, you can’t access the support you need to prevent yourself from becoming destitute.
You can find a bit more info about immigration policy here or in Ceri Hutton and Sue Lukes’ report, “Models of accommodation and support for migrants with no recourse to public funds (NRPF)“.
The number people facing problems because of their immigration status is high:
- Anyone subject to immigration controls has No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). There are no readily available estimates of the number of people in that position, but it is in the millions. Many people with NRPF are not homeless or at risk of homelessness. However, any negative change in their financial or family circumstances is liable to result in destitution.
- In 2009 the London School of Economic gave a median figure of 618,000 undocumented migrants in the UK. The vast majority of undocumented migrants will be homeless or at risk of homelessness as they have no right to access the job market in the UK and have NRPF.
- Ceri Hutton and Sue Lukes estimate that around 6000 people per year come to the end of the asylum process and do not leave the UK. Those people have no right to access the job market and have NRPF.
- In a 2016 report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a team from Herriot Watt University estimated that around 21% of the U.K.’s 1.25 million destitute people are migrants, roughly 263,000 people. That 37% of destitute migrants, approximately 97,000 people, had slept rough.
The negative impacts of destitution are severe.
- 76% of people interviewed for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation report had gone without food, 71% without adequate clothing or shoes, 63% without toiletries, 56% had been unable to heat their home and 30% unable to light it.
- Destitution puts a strain on relationships within a household and, because of lack of access to transport or communication technologies, also puts strain other relationships
- As a result, destitution puts strain on physical and mental health.
Thousand 4 £1000 has been set up so that if you are caught on the wrong side of the immigration rules, you can find a home. The support which has been given by our subscribers to some of the most marginalised people in our community has made an enormous impact on health and well-being of the people supported. We hope to be able to do more to change the hostile environment to a welcoming one through small acts of solidarity. We believe that there must be thousands of people who are willing to give a bit of their spare change to make a society that is welcoming to strangers. We will use all of that money to cover the housing costs of as many people as we can. If you can spare £1 per month (or more), please, please do donate, and help us make this town a space for all.