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Poor health, no wealth, no home: a case study of destitution

Fleeing your home and arriving in a new country is a traumatic experience.

But once here in the UK, many people who escaped one crisis now face another: destitution.

Self-worth gone

Having to live hand-to-mouth, desperate and penniless, can happen at any point in the asylum process.

It can affect the young man waiting to submit an application, or the mother who is granted protection and now has to decipher the paperwork.

As one man said to us during the research: “You lose your whole self-worth.”

read the report

Key findings

Our latest report on destitution uses the experiences of asylum seekers across South Yorkshire as a case study.

However, the findings are likely to be echoed throughout the UK – and they paint a bleak picture.

  • Two-thirds of people report regular hunger – and a quarter are going hungry every day.
  • More than half have no fixed address. In our experience, this adds to the risk of serious – including sexual – exploitation.
  • More than half of people said their health had worsened.

Main recommendations

  • Give financial support to people who fall destitute, up until they have refugee status or can return to their home country.
  • If a refused asylum seeker cannot return to their country, through no fault of their own, grant them limited leave to remain in the UK. Don’t let them fall between the cracks.
  • Give free healthcare to all asylum seekers, no matter what their status – as is the case in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Make sure the Immigration Bill (2015-2016) does not plunge yet more families into destitution, through further cuts to asylum support.

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