Our Statement on the Refugee Homelessness Crisis
As you may have seen in the news recently, we are currently seeing unprecedented numbers of refugees facing homelessness. This is not only jeopardising the immediate safety and wellbeing of the young people we support, but also impacting our ability to run effective Mentoring and Grants and Advocacy Programmes.
The moment a young person seeking sanctuary is granted refugee status should be one of joy and relief, marking an end to the period of instability and uncertainty they have faced as an asylum-seeker in the UK, and the start of a bright and promising future. Yet for many, the happy news of a positive decision on their asylum claim is being overshadowed by the imminent risk of homelessness and destitution.
Recent asylum policy changes have reduced the ‘move-on’ time given for newly recognised refugees to leave their Home Office accommodation and secure safe housing, from 28 days’ notice after receiving refugee status to as little as 7 days. At the same time, the Home Office has accelerated the rate at which they are processing asylum applications in an effort to clear the asylum case backlog.
This has resulted in a staggering rise in refugee homelessness: the number of refugees evicted into homelessness has tripled since this time last year , and the British Red Cross has projected that over 50,000 refugees could be made homeless by the end of the year . For further details on the background and impact of the reduced move-on period, please click here .
At Hope for the Young, we have witnessed first-hand the devastating consequences of these changes to the move-on process. Since they came into effect, 6 young people whom we support have been made homeless or are currently homeless, 9 young people have been served (or are waiting on) an eviction notice and are at imminent risk of homelessness, and 25 young people are awaiting a decision on their asylum claim and are therefore at risk of homelessness in the near future. As the weather has turned bitterly cold, the urgency to find shelter has intensified, with young people facing the prospect of sleeping rough in parks or street corners or finding makeshift arrangements on friends’ sofas.
How we are responding
Our team has been responding as best we can by:
- Issuing guidance on the current situation to our staff and volunteer mentors, so that we can be alerted to any homelessness-related safeguarding concerns and support young people as early as possible.
- Working closely with organisations who can support young people with housing and supporting young people to fill out homelessness applications and attend appointments with these organisations and with local councils.
- Broadening the scope of our internal hardship fund, to pay for emergency accommodation while a young person is looking for permanent accommodation and to cover move-in costs for those able to find accommodation.
- Increasing casework capacity within the team by recruiting volunteers from our current team of mentors to help with attending appointments, filling in forms, and providing signposting and advice. In the new year, we will be exploring more permanent solutions such as bringing a permanent caseworker onto the team to support young people on our programmes.
How you can support young refugees during the homelessness crisis
- Donate to our hardship fund, to help us provide urgent financial assistance to the young people on our programmes who have been made homeless.
- Support the work of organisations striving to provide safe accommodation for refugees, for example, by becoming a host with Refugees at Home, Hope at Home, or Room for Refugees.
- Call on the government to extend the move-on period to at least 56 days in line with the Homelessness Reduction Act, which would match the time period local authorities are given to work with households at risk of homelessness. Click here to find your local MP, and here for a template email by Shelter, which you can personalise and send to your MP.
Thank you for your continued support as we seek to create safe and stable futures for young refugees in the UK.
Hope for the Young
 Barradale, G. 2023. ‘Number of refugees evicted into homelessness triples in wake of Home Office asylum change’, Big Issue, 23 November. Available at: https://www.bigissue.com/news/social-justice/homeless-refugees-rise-home-office-asylum-accommodation/.
 British Red Cross. 2023. ‘Move-on period: more than 50,000 refugees could be homeless by the end of the year’, 5 October. Available at: https://www.redcross.org.uk/stories/migration-and-displacement/refugees-and-asylum-seekers/move-on-period-more-than-50000-refugees-could-be-homeless-by-end-of-year.
 Refugee Council. 2023. ‘Why the changes to the “move-on” period mean more refugees are facing homelessness and destitution’, Policy Briefing. Available at: https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/Move-on-briefing-and-destitution-Oct-2023.pdf.