Refugee at risk of homelessness speaks of relief after help from Lancashire charity

Video report and article by ITV Granada Reports journalist, Emma Sweeney.

A newly recognised refugee at risk of homelessness and destitution has spoken of his relief and gratitude after finding support through a charity in Lancashire.

Kevin, who is originally from Iran, said he was not sure what to do or where to go when he was first provided with a visa to stay in the UK.

He had just 28 days to leave his Home Office accommodation and sort out his own housing and finances.

Kevin eventually came across Kairos Housing, which provides accommodation and advice for people who would otherwise be living in a homeless hostel or on the streets.

Pastor Stephen Norcross, who runs the charity, said the aim was not only to provide people with a roof over their heads, it was also to give them advice on how to begin their new lives.

He said: "We'll help them navigate the really complicated system around housing benefit and local council and council tax and water rates - and all these things that you need to know about life in the United Kingdom, to make a fresh start."

Critics say the Government's 28 day move on period for newly recognised refugees simply is not long enough and leaves people at risk of homelessness and destitution.

Amy Merone, advocacy manager at Boaz Trust, said: "When a person receives their refugee status, they have 28 days to leave the accommodation that they're staying in and find new accommodation and find work.

"That's just not a realistic timeframe for people so what we experience is that some people end up street homeless because they're not able to access the private rental market in that time.

"They're also waiting for their biometric residence permit which contains their national insurance and without that you can't work."

Kevin is settling into his new accommodation and says the charity's support means he can now concentrate on integrating further into British society.

He said: "I want to learn English as fast as possible and go to my classes, get my life going and do what I did back in my country which was a sports coach."

Kevin says he can now dare to dream because of the support he has had - others do not feel so lucky.

A Government spokesperson said: “Refugees need to receive the right support once they have been granted asylum in the UK, which is why we fund Migrant Help, who contact refugees at the start of the 28-day period to provide advice on accessing employment opportunities, financial support and housing.

“Asylum accommodation is currently under huge strain and increasing the ‘move on’ period would only exacerbate these pressures. 

"Our New Plan for Immigration will fix the UK’s broken asylum system.”

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