Destitution in Leeds
The experiences of people seeking asylum and supporting agencies
Author: Lewis, Hannah
Author Organisation: The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
To explore the impact of destitution on asylum seekers and agencies in Leeds which is one of the major dispersal cities.
The report draws on the following methodologies: a four-week survey of destitute clients; interviews with refused asylum seekers and local agencies; a questionnaire for church networks and the Leeds refugee and asylum multi-agency meeting; focus group with refugee community organisations; focus groups with housing and homelessness agencies; participation observation with staff, volunteers and clients at drop-ins. The survey data was analysed using SPPS.
The survey-based report indicated that:
- Refused asylum seekers remain in the UK for long periods of time and are subjected to destitution;
- Main target groups originate from countries engaged in conflicts and human rights violations and therefore can not be returned so easily;
- The New Asylum Model (NAM) has the potential to leave the problem of destitution unsolved;
- There is a lack of official response for rough sleeping among destitute asylum seekers.
The report makes the following recommendations for the solution of the problem of destitution among asylum seekers:
- Provide asylum seekers with access to labour markets by allowing them the right to work
- Improve legal representation and decision-making for asylum claims
- Improve the access to information on support and strengthen the dialogue between refugees agencies, statutory bodies and the Home office
- Monitor the implications of the New Asylum Model and consequently address the need for better quality of decisions; timeframes; training for staff
- availability of options for voluntary return.
The report also makes the following concluding points:
- The figures show that destitution is widespread and that rejected asylum seekers are the largest affected group;
- Destitution is created when support is being linked with asylum claims;
- Destitution is not connected with pull factors and does not encourage people to return to their countries of origin;
- Current policy is not an adequate response to the issue of destitution among asylum seekers;
- Research reveals that a significant number of rejected asylum seekers are not able to return to their country of origin;
- Exploration of choices made by forced migrants at various stages of the migration process is a good field for further research.
Web Link: Available online