Countering the hostile environment through hospitality


Countering the hostile environment through hospitality

Amy-Leigh gives her take on the government's accommodation policy and the importance of hosting

05 September 2023

Countering the hostile environment through hospitality

“We live in a world of stark difference, of richness and poverty. Often at the table it comes across that we are countering the hostile environment through hospitality.”

James Conway SJ, one of our At Home hosts

Finding regular, safe, and secure accommodation is one of the greatest challenges faced by destitute refugees – our refugee friends.

The Illegal Migration Act passed in July 2023 practically extinguishes the right to claim asylum in the UK, inevitably leading to thousands of individuals who have a well-founded fear of persecution having their asylum claim refused.

Whilst families are generally entitled to statutory support regardless of their immigration status, the majority of those whose asylum claims are refused lose their right to claim any benefits or accommodation. They are banned from working and become utterly destitute, left powerless after having already spent months or years awaiting a decision.

To make matters worse, the Home Office has recently shared a statement confirming that it will be following a stricter interpretation of their current policy of ending asylum support. Now, refugee friends are at risk of being given less than 21 days notice to find alternative accommodation. Across the sector, we are already seeing huge increases in referrals for urgent accommodation.

Additionally, the Home Office’s long term failure to progress asylum claims has made it financially unsustainable for many solicitors to operate within the asylum Legal Aid framework. This means that it is taking even longer for those refused asylum to find new legal representation, to make a ‘fresh claim’, and settle in the UK.

These changes will undoubtedly lead to a huge increase of vulnerable people becoming trapped in limbo; cycling between homelessness, precarious conditions, and even detention.

Hosts Steve and Gill visit the JRS centre in Wapping

Fortunately, we already have a well-developed model that responds to this growing need for safe and stable accommodation.

The At Home hosting scheme provides respite to refugee friends experiencing destitution, and creates a safe, hospitable sanctuary where they feel welcome again.

At a time when we are seeing more hostility than ever, hosting is a life-line for refugee friends at risk of street homelessness.

Please get in touch if you are interested in finding more about our scheme. You would be more than welcome to come visit us at the JRS centre, like our wonderful hosts, Steve and Gill. We accept applications to host from anyone living in London who is willing to open up their home to a destitute refugee.

Learn more about the At Home Hosting Scheme

Find out more about At Home through one of our hosts, Fr Keith Baltrop:


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Jesuit Refugee Service UK
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre
2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT

020 7488 7310

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