Refugee Week: Our home

People on london bus - refugee week
This Refugee Week, we're here to explain why Refugees and asylum seekers need our support in finding home.

Refugee Week is here

But what does it mean for homelessness?

It’s no coincidence that the theme for Refugee Week this year is ‘Our Home’.

Refugees arrive in London with hopes for a better future – escaping conflicts, persecution, and tough living conditions in their home countries. They come seeking safety, stability, and opportunities.

At The Connection, we believe it’s our job to help them find a safe and stable home. However, the journey from seeking asylum to finding a permanent home is filled with challenges.

Challenges faced by refugees in London

Everyone’s journey in and out of homelessness is complex and unique. Here are a few common barriers to finding a home that we see at our day centre in London.

Legal barriers

Navigating the asylum process can be overwhelming, especially for those unfamiliar with the English legal system or language.

The legal system’s complexity and slow pace can leave many refugees in limbo for extended periods. During these times, they may be unable to work or receive financial support from the Government.

This often forces people to struggle on the streets before asylum is granted, if it is granted at all.

Limited access to housing

When refugees arrive in London with open asylum cases, their housing options are limited. Typically, the Government provides temporary accommodation, but these places are often overcrowded and unhygienic.

The temporary nature of this housing means refugees frequently have to move, further disrupting their lives and making it difficult to settle into the local community.

Additionally, not everyone is entitled to this support, leaving many with no means to work or receive public support, which results in many people sleeping rough until their asylum case is resolved.

Mental health

Many refugees have experienced significant trauma before arriving in London, with lasting mental health effects.

Once here, the added stress of navigating the asylum process, finding housing, and adapting to a new culture can worsen their psychological distress.

Furthermore, sleeping on the streets exposes refugees to additional dangers and hardships, including the elements, violence, and theft. The constant threat to their safety and well-being can lead to heightened anxiety, depression and PTSD.

This instability makes it even harder for them to attend important asylum appointments, language classes, or job training programs, creating further barriers to finding a home in the UK.

The connection between the challenges faced by refugees and homelessness in London is clear. Without proper support, an asylum seeker’s hope for a new beginning can quickly turn into a struggle for survival on the streets.

Nariman’s story

Despite these challenges, many refugees demonstrate remarkable resilience and determination, just like Nariman.

Nariman is a Kurdish asylum seeker who came to the UK from Iraq 20 years ago.

When he first arrived in the UK, asylum seekers were allowed to work, so he was working and paying rent while trying to process his asylum claim.

However, after the national rules changed Nariman and other asylum seekers were no longer entitled to work permits.

This meant Nariman could no longer secure an income to rent a place, and he had to spend over 10 years sleeping rough.

Luckily, Nariman found The Connection.

Now, Nariman is now settled in his new flat, with the safety and stability that this and his job are bringing him. He is keen to give back what he can, and to continue enjoying his home.

Stories like Nariman’s serve as powerful reminders of the potential within each person sleeping rough if they receive the right support.

nariman and his key worker Su
Nariman chatting with his key worker Su

Next steps: Refugee Week and beyond

The relationship between rough sleeping in London and refugees is complex but not impossible to address.

To hear more about our work this Refugee Week and beyond, sign up for our Connection community below.