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Refugee homelessness risk raised by faith leaders in House of Lords

by Ros Mayfield
Screenshot 2023-12-19 124304.png - Banner image
via Houses of Parliament

The Bishop of London has addressed the House of Lords, over concerns among faith leaders about the number of newly approved refugees facing a sudden risk of homelessness in the UK.

Rt Rev Sarah Mulally said: “Many of those who support refugees are receiving increasing numbers of concerns that refugees are being given as few as seven days’ notice before being evicted, causing widespread homelessness.”

Lord Sharpe, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Office, said the government did not agree with extending the time-limit from 28 days to 56, and denied that refugees were being abandoned.

"There are at least three opportunities there where the asylum seeker, or the asylum claimant who has received a decision, will be notified. They have plenty of time."

Forty-six faith leaders wrote to two Home Office ministers for faith and immigration last week, to express fears that the very time that should be a cause of celebration, was leading to huge distress and trauma, as asylum seekers received word that their refugee status had been approved, at the same time as notice that they would soon be evicted from their asylum provision, to make way for new applicants.

Families face the daunting prospect of having to navigate multiple new systems of government, including housing and benefits if they can’t find work straight away, as well as – in some cases – locating new schools for their children.

Bishop Sarah continued: “What data is the Home Office collecting that demonstrates that the 28-day notice period is being properly implemented? What action will it take to review it, given reported failures to do so?”

She was supported by Sikh peer, Lord Singh of Wimbledon, who referenced Jesus’s family’s journey away from King Herod in the Bible, adding: “Asylum seekers given the right to remain must be given a realistic timeframe to move out of temporary Home Office accommodation, bearing in mind the trauma that they have suffered, and their lack of familiarity with their new surroundings. Sikh teachings on the need to help such people echo Christian sentiment, which pointedly reminds us that Jesus and his family were themselves refugees in Egypt.”

The faith leaders’ letter last week said places of worship were receiving an increasing number of referrals from those in crisis, and called on the government to address the problem.

Lord Sharpe, speaking for the government admitted he had only read part of the research into the trauma and suffering caused in such cases, and promised to look into the issues raised.

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