The JRS destitution team works with refused, destitute asylum seekers from all corners of the globe, each one with a different story and need. Our refugee friends come to us with all sorts of requests, from registering with the GP to finding accommodation.
Below are some of the things we get asked to help with:
A lot of our refugee friends are typically in the process of preparing an immigration application, which can often be a lengthy affair. While friends are waiting to submit their applications, they are not eligible for asylum support and so we often encounter people struggling with accommodation.
One such friend, Paul**, is a few months away from submitting his application to the Home Office. He was living with a friend of his, but their relationship broke down and he was rough sleeping as a result. We have managed to arrange a hosting placement for him through another charity. He is currently staying with a lovely couple in South London until his application is ready to be submitted next month, we then will assist him with the application for asylum support.
A key part of our job is to identify friends that need legal advice, so we can refer them to our Legal Project. The Legal Project can sometimes take on some of these cases and assist them with further representations, or in the alternative offer one-off advice on the next steps.
In addition, for those friends who are already represented by another solicitor, we often hear complaints that they have not heard from them in a long time. Solicitors are busy people and part of our job is contacting the solicitors on their behalf to chase an update.
One friend, Selina*, was having trouble contacting her solicitor, we reached out and set up a joint meeting between herself and the solicitor. We then agreed with the solicitor to arrange for a JRS volunteer to accompany her to her home country’s Embassy, which is often necessary to obtain further evidence to progress their case.
Healthcare is another important facet of our work. For example, we regularly help friends claim things like free prescriptions, dental treatment, and sight tests from the NHS by filling out the appropriate form.
In addition, due to Language barriers or having no proof of address, friends sometimes get turned away from registering with a GP. We often assist friends with registrations;: informing them of their rights to register and finding appropriate GPs that are more accommodating to people without status. In one case, we referred a friend to Doctors of the World, they subsequently registered with the Health Inclusion Clinic in Lambeth and can now access that vital support.
As part of the practical support given by JRS, we provide each refugee friend with a monthly food & toiletries parcel from our JRS Shop, a mobile credit top-up, as well as £15 on their “Equals” cards every 2 weeks.
However, we can also help friends with getting additional money or items from other services. We recently helped a mother, Luna**, apply for a school uniform grant from an external organisation for her 3-year-old child starting school in September. We have also referred her to a local baby bank, so she can access items such as prams, toys and clothes. These are just typical examples of what forms part of our everyday work with and for refugees and asylum seekers.
** Names are pseudonyms
We are always looking for donations to continue supporting destitute refugees at JRS