Women for Refugee Women is part of the Still Human Still Here coalition, a group of more than 40 organisations that are campaigning to end the destitution of thousands of refused asylum seekers in the UK.
If women fleeing persecution are refused asylum and have exhausted their rights to appeal, they may become destitute. This means that they have no right to access benefits or housing, and also no right to work. It is estimated that over 200,000 refused asylum seekers are living destitute in the UK. Because of poor legal representation and poor communication among statutory agencies, destitution can also extend to those who are going through the asylum process.
We can see the overwhelming negative effects of destitution among the women with whom we work. These range from the personal effects on women’s physical and mental health, to effects on the community and the wider society. We are particularly concerned that destitution increases women’s vulnerability to sexual exploitation and violence. Our experiences lead us to understand that destitution does not encourage people to make arrangements to return home. On the contrary, destitute asylum seekers are overwhelmingly focused on day to day struggle for survival.
The Still Human Still Here coalition believes that the current policy is inhumane and ineffective and is urging the Government to provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with sufficient support so that they can meet their essential living needs until they are returned to their country of origin or are given permission to stay in the UK, and grant asylum seekers permission to work if their case has not been resolved within six months or they have been refused, but temporarily cannot be returned through no fault of their own.
If you would like to support the campaign to end the destitution of asylum seekers, please write to your MP asking what they are doing to ensure that women who have come to this country seeking protection from persecution are not forced into destitution. Copy your letter to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.