In a concerning development, a growing number of refugees are facing abrupt eviction from Home Office accommodation, pushing them to the brink of homelessness. This distressing situation has unfolded due to recent policy changes, resulting in a threefold increase in the number of individuals thrust into uncertainty.
Organizations facilitating refugee hosting are grappling with an unprecedented surge and urgently seeking compassionate hosts to make a difference. Refugees at Home, a charity connecting refugees with hosts, witnessed an astonishing 204 referrals in October alone—triple the figures from the previous year.
Executive Director Carly Whyborn highlighted the severity of the situation, stating, “Many people are coming to us having slept on park benches, in mosques and churches, or on friends’ floors. We know anecdotally of young, vulnerable refugees who are being preyed on and recruited into drugs gangs because there is no other support.”
The rush to clear the backlog of asylum applications and transition people out of hotels has inadvertently exacerbated the issue. Refugees, given minimal time to vacate their Home Office accommodation—sometimes just a week—now find themselves thrust into an unyielding winter without a stable place to call home.
Amid this crisis, charitable organizations like Refugees at Home find themselves stretched beyond their limits, striving tirelessly to aid refugees facing abrupt eviction.
A poignant narrative emerges from a former hotel dweller who, after two years of grappling with the asylum system, found solace in the embrace of hosts. Reflecting on the experience, he shares, “These memories will stick with me for the rest of my life. I found welcoming people. I was afraid, I didn’t know where to go, with all these negative ideas and thoughts. Tired, carrying my bags on the streets. And they opened the doors for me.”
Hope at Home, a charity dedicated to matching survivors of modern slavery with hosts, is similarly inundated with referrals, surpassing its usual monthly average. Operations Director Helen Hodgson notes a stark increase, stating, “A usual month would see six refugees referred to the organization, but since August, the total has been 45—or 16 people a month. It’s really hard for the team to have to turn people away.”
The severity of the crisis is palpable across cities nationwide, with London witnessing a doubling in rough sleeping among those recently displaced from Home Office accommodation. Volunteer services, already stretched thin, resort to distributing sleeping bags as a temporary solution.
Compounding the issue is the effective reduction in the time afforded to newly-recognized refugees to secure alternative housing before facing eviction, creating a looming specter of mass homelessness.
Despite the grim circumstances, there is a beacon of hope—a call to action for individuals to make a tangible difference. Organizations like Hope at Home are seeking hosts willing to open their homes in and around major cities, including London, Brighton, Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Manchester.
“If you’ve got a spare room and live in a town or city with good public transport, you could help. That’s really it. We do the rest, we’ll support them, we’ll train them, we’ll match them,” urges Hodgson, emphasizing the pivotal role hosts play in alleviating the crisis.
In times of adversity, communities must unite to extend a lifeline to those in need. By becoming a host, you can be the catalyst for positive change, offering refuge to those who have faced unimaginable hardships. The power to transform lives lies within the collective compassion of individuals willing to step forward and make a difference.