Jasmine and Steven, JRS Destitution workers, share with us some insights about the current hostile environment towards refugees and the support they provide for asylum seekers.
The hostile environment towards refugees
From the Rwanda Asylum Plan to talk of electronically tagging asylum seekers, it is clear there is an ever-increasing hostile environment towards refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. As destitution caseworkers at JRS UK, we don’t work with people directly affected by these policies but there is a tangible impact across the work that we do. At current, there is what can be described as ‘sector exhaustion’ as refugee organisations, solicitors and volunteers are working tirelessly to respond to inhumane governmental agendas, refugee influxes from Afghanistan and Ukraine as well as the needs of asylum seekers from all around the world. Consequently, there is a noticeable lack of access to free, quality Legal advice across the sector and very limited accommodation options with only a few shelters operating in the summer and many COVID homeless hotels closing. While these are undoubtedly difficult times, our work at JRS remains more relevant and important than ever.
We work mostly with refused asylum seekers, they have no right to work or access any kind of government support to sustain themselves. A large part of our work involves helping refugee friends to navigate their way through their forced destitution. This involves presenting them with accommodation options, helping them claim free prescription costs, and getting practical support from foodbanks, and baby banks – for baby essentials.
Would you like to help a destitute refugee? Donate to our Hardship fund now!
Helping a female refugee friend
By way of example, just recently, we helped a female refugee friend who was at risk of street homelessness. She had nowhere to go and no friends or family she could stay with. While her solicitor was preparing a new immigration application for consideration, we referred her to a night shelter and then into a hosting scheme with a family for a few months. Once her immigration application went in, we were able to assist her to apply for asylum support, including gathering evidence from her counsellor to advocate for housing in London so she can continue to access specialist therapy. This can be a complicated process, especially for those with limited English, and friends benefit from having a caseworker who can advocate for them to access the support they are entitled to. While it can be tiring work, it is always rewarding to see a friend in a significantly better situation than when you met them.
Our refugee friends do not have any resources to public funds nor the right to work and earn an income. Please support them by donating to our hardship fund here, so that they can get the financial support they desperately need.