Actions and Detail Panel
Hosting scheme for destitute refused asylum seekers in Lancashire - explora...
Tue 2 May 2017, 19:00 – 21:30 BST
This is your your invitation from Together Lancashire to an open meeting to explore how this could work.
With Dave Smith – Boaz Trust and NACCOM
We are grateful for your desire to help local asylum seekers and refugees and hope you will be able to take part and to discover what is involved if you sign up as a volunteer host. Dave will explain how such schemes operate and answer questions, then Together Lancashire will present our plans for such a scheme across Lancashire. We are looking to enrol potential hosts and to recruit a small steering group of 5 – 8 people who will give some time to managing and developing the project.
The Current Situation across Lancashire :About 170 asylum seekers are currently housed in Preston, 50-100 in Lancaster, several hundred in Blackburn, and around 100 in West Lancashire under the government dispersal programme. Other districts such as Burnley and Pendle are soon going to be included as well. Numbers are likely to be rise in the foreseeable future. The majority of asylum-seekers are young single men, although there are some single women and a small number of families with children.
A proportion of asylum seekers will get refugee status and may wish to settle in Lancashire permanently, though many will likely move to bigger cities where they have networks of support. Their housing needs are likely to be short term, just until they can arrange benefits or employment and establish a tenancy, most probably in the private rented sector. A hosting scheme may be called on to offer short term help, while supported housing projects such as MANW's Fox Street or Emmaus or new managed HMOs also have a role here.
Other asylum seekers will be refused and then have no right to public funds. While the Home Offices seeks to remove such people from the UK either voluntarily or by deportation, the processes are slow and subject to challenge and delay. In the meanwhile refused asylum seekers are forced to rely on their own social networks for accommodation and support, or they can become homeless, and destitute. They are also vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous and illegal employers, landlords or traffickers.
What is a hosting scheme?
A hosting scheme involves volunteer householders who have a spare room making this available rent free (or for small expenses payments) to an asylum seeker for periods ranging from on or two nights up to a year or more. Eating arrangements vary considerably but usually there are many shared meals, and in some cases the guest comes to be treated as any other family or household member. Successful hosting schemes have been running in Manchester through Boaz Trust and in many other cities through members of the NACCOM network. A pilot scheme with a small number of hosts and gusest is already operating through the City of Sanctuary network in Lancaster. Their experience has allowed us to have access to a manual of good practice which will shape how the local scheme will work.
A Lancashire Hosting Scheme?
It is envisaged that Together Lancashire will initiate, develop and manage the scheme. Subject to funding a part time co-ordinator will be employed. Using our networks in churches, faith communities and the wider community volunteer hosts will be recruited, vetted for suitability and added to a register of hosts. When a housing need for a destitute refused asylum-seeker (or a temporary need for someone moving from asylum seeker to refugee status) arises, referring agencies such as the British Red Cross or housing authorities will contact the scheme co-ordinator. An attempt will then be made to set up a local and rapid placement with an appropriate registered host. Support will be offered on other practical needs either by referral to other agencies such as food banks, advice agencies, ACTS 435 etc. or directly from a destitution fund or gifts in kind.
Each placement situation will be kept under review (in the early stages at least weekly) with a view to finding a longer term solution to the housing issue.