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UK’s Fast-Tracked Asylum System Leaves Refugees Homeless

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Refugees like Adam are grappling with the fallout of government policy changes that have left them not only homeless but also questioning the value of their arduous journey through the UK asylum system. Adam, who spent two years in a hotel awaiting a decision on his asylum claim, found himself on the streets just a month after receiving the news he had longed for, as reported by The Big Issue.

The heart of this crisis lies in the government’s attempt to clear the asylum backlog and reduce accommodation costs, resulting in a two-fold challenge. Firstly, a rapid processing of claims has led to thousands being abruptly told to leave their temporary homes. Secondly, changes to the 28-day ‘move-on’ period mean that refugees often have just one week to secure housing, exacerbating the acute shortage of temporary accommodation. Recent data revealed a threefold increase in refugee homelessness from August to October 2023.

Adam’s story began in Yemen, where he had a house, a job, and a family until the civil war erupted in 2014. Faced with threats to his life due to his work with foreign organizations, he made the difficult decision to flee alone to the UK in 2021. Upon arrival, he discovered that, as an asylum seeker, he was not allowed to work, a fact overlooked when he initially arrived on a student visa.

Despite securing a job as a tech consultant, Adam’s asylum status prevented him from finalizing the contract. Two years passed before he learned of his refugee status in September 2023. This moment of relief quickly turned to despair as he realized the limited time he had to find accommodation, in a system that seemed to work against him.

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The 28-day ‘move-on’ period, crucial for refugees to transition to independent living, now starts when they are informed of their approved status rather than when they receive the necessary paperwork. This bureaucratic delay often leaves refugees with just seven days to secure housing. Adam, facing eviction on October 26, 2023, found the support system lacking, with the council unwilling to assist until eviction day.

Refugees at Home, a charitable organization, provided a temporary solution by connecting Adam with a host on October 27, 2023. Grateful for the shelter, Adam acknowledges the struggle continues as he faces delays in securing permanent housing. Newham Council deemed him not a priority for homelessness support, and hostels projected a 15-week wait for a bed.

Stuck in a cycle where employment is elusive without an address, and housing is unaffordable without income, Adam’s mental and physical health deteriorates. His poignant reflection, “I’m going down, physically, mentally. Hopefully one day this will be changed,” echoes the desperate plea of many refugees navigating the unforgiving terrain of the UK asylum system.

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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