How we help people seeking asylum and refugees who face poverty and homelessness
Hundreds of people seeking asylum and refugees in Scotland face extreme poverty, destitution and homelessness as they struggle to support themselves and their families.
Having been forced to flee their countries, many people seeking protection in Scotland are at risk of destitution at various points in their asylum journey for many reasons including problems with the current asylum system.
- People seeking asylum are not allowed to work and receive as little as £39.63 a week to cover all of their essential needs like food, clothes, transport, toiletries and school uniform. These payments can be delayed by bureaucracy or stopped if an asylum claim is turned down.
- Initial asylum claims, as well as fresh claims, have to be submitted in person in England, yet many asylum seekers living in Scotland cannot afford the travel down South.
- Asylum seekers can fall through the system completely when their request for asylum is refused and they’ve made all the appeals they’re allowed to make without success. Those who are Appeal Rights Exhausted often end up homeless on the streets, with no recourse to public funds.
- Even if granted refugee status, the risk of destitution remains, as there is only a 28 day period before all asylum support – including housing – stops.
What does destitution mean for asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland?
“In Immigration Law, a person is destitute when they don’t have adequate accommodation or any way of getting it, or where they can’t meet their essential living needs”.
Four ways we’re helping refugees and people seeking asylum in Scotland facing destitution
- The Destitute Asylum Seeker Service, a multi-agency partnership project helping to support routes out of long term destitution through emergency shelter, temporary accommodation, casework and legal advice
- Destitution Grants, small one-off emergency payments to asylum seekers and refugees who do not receive support from the government or other sources
- Travel Grants, that allow individuals to attend important meetings for example in England with the Home Office.
- Bump or Baby bus passes – ten week bus passes for asylum seeker women who are heavily pregnant or have recently given birth.