The Bishop of Stepney is calling on the government to allow refugees more time to find accommodation in London.
Rt Rev Dr Joanne Grenfell says she is “deeply concerned” for the welfare of those who have been granted refugee status and yet find themselves homeless in the city.
Churches across the Diocese of London echoed her call, saying they’re alarmed at the dramatically increasing numbers of newly- recognised refugees experiencing homelessness. They say it has been caused by a recent Home Office change in practice to give only seven days’ notice to leave their accommodation.
After being granted refugee status, many are told to leave their accommodation at extremely short notice. In many cases just a week's notice is given, and often without the provision of documentation that refugees need to find a home, access financial support, and find a job in a city already facing a housing crisis.
Church communities, like many other faith groups, community organisations and charities, are involved in supporting people staying in local hotels waiting to hear about their asylum claim.
People are often waiting months, or years for a decision by the Home Office. During this time, many churches provide practical and emotional support to people who are often fleeing religious persecution. Many have become Christian and turn to their local church for support.
Bishop Joanne said :
“I am appreciative that so many of our churches are showing the love of God through deep care and support for refugees who are navigating the asylum system in our city.
“I am deeply concerned for the welfare of those who have been granted refugee status and yet find themselves sleeping on our city’s streets.
“I call upon our government to act with compassion and humanity, allowing refugees in this situation a much more reasonable time to find accommodation and to begin their integration into this country.”
Pattie Gercke, a Refugee & Asylum Development Worker who supports church communities across the Diocese of London said :
“We are hugely concerned about the increasing number of newly recognised refugees who are experiencing homelessness. It is appalling to see men and women who our church communities have journeyed with through their asylum claims, being told by the Home Office that their claims are valid, but then having to sleep on the street. Seven-day eviction notices provide no time to find anywhere to stay, and this is creating an unnecessary homeless emergency.”
The Red Cross estimates that It takes at least 35 days to start getting Universal Credit, and local authorities need at least 56 days to help with accommodation.