The asylum system is tough and people seeking refugee protection sometimes fall through the cracks. Our Destitute Asylum Seeker Service offers people practical advice and support at a very difficult time in their lives.
Last year, we supported 330 people who were experiencing destitution, homelessness and extreme poverty.
Helping people experiencing destitution
We help people understand their rights and entitlements, find legal and finical support and access healthcare and mental health service. And we refer people in desperate need of help to charities that provide hot food, warm clothing and homelessness support.
Between April 2021 and March 2022, we helped 181 people apply for emergency grants and supported 55 applications to the Home Office for housing and financial support.
Destitution is harrowing and can be especially difficult for people who are already dealing with trauma. Many of the people we support suffer with poor physical and mental health.
Last year, we helped 127 destitute asylum seekers register with a GP and offered support at medical appointments to help them explain their symptoms and health issues to medical staff.
Levi* was referred to our Destitute Asylum Seeker Service after calling our Helpline looking for urgent advice.
Since 2016, Levi had been living with his uncle but was no longer able to stay with him and had become homeless. He was trying to gather documents to submit a fresh asylum claim with the Home Office but hadn’t been in contact with his solicitor for a long time.
As a survivor of torture, Levi suffers from PTSD. Faced with homelessness, extreme poverty and uncertainty about the future, his poor mental health became even worse and he was struggling to cope. He had no money, no accommodation and no idea who to turn to for help.
Levi was assigned a destitution adviser who was on hand to reassure him, offer support and advocate on his behalf. She contacted Levi’s lawyer to check how his case was progressing and helped explain things to Levi so he understood what was happening.
Levi’s adviser also helped him apply for housing and finical support from the Home Office and worked with his lawyer and GP to gather evidence in support of his asylum claim.
A few months later, Levi received the good news that he has been granted leave to remain in the UK. He is now working with our Refugee Integration Service to begin rebuilding his life here in Scotland.
Thanking his adviser for her support he said: “You are a very good woman. You are one of the people I will write in the history of my life. I wish you the best. Thank you.”
*Levi’s name has been changed to protect his anonymity
Find out more about our Destitute Asylum Seeker Service and the support we offer.DestitutionOur impact
This post was originally published on Scottish Refugee Council.