Wednesday, 04 March 2015

Homeless state

From: Care

As we highlighted in recent research, thousands of migrants who the Home Office believe will get on a plane and leave the UK because they are failed asylum seekers have ‘gone to ground’ in the UK, most likely rough sleeping or sofa surfing.

But just because they have exhausted all appeals and no longer have a legal right to be here, doesn’t mean they are going to get on that plane. If you have no documents, no money and you going home means you face a war zone, what is the likelihood you might take your chances on the streets of Britain?

The BBC’s Inside Out last night revealed even more shocking evidence, that migrant children are sleeping on the streets because they have no nationality. Not necessarily in the same position as failed migrants, as they have not applied to be here and failed. But in the same situation as they are miles away from their country of origin and homeless. They are migrants without recourse to public funds in this country.

Rick Henderson, chief executive of the umbrella body Homeless Link, says that one in ten homeless services help people who are undocumented migrants. ‘These individuals often only avoid extreme deprivation by drawing on their own resources or by seeking help from homeless charities,’ Mr Henderson said.  ‘I recently met a number of people who, because they have no recourse to public funds, are forced to sleep rough under a railway arch.’

More extreme than that, the BBC programme tells us that for some children those recourses are selling sex to eat and find shelter.

Councils, never shy to gatekeep, have also, apparently, been assessing children as older than they are so they do not have to help them.

There are some that might say, if people do no have a legal right to be here, they should not have recourse to public funds. They should have no right to help with housing, or food. Would they also apply this to children? They may have been smuggled out of their own countries, or have had to run away from an abusive guardian. If they have no documentation, how would they get back to their country of origin? There could be all sorts of reasons a young person is on the streets through no fault of their own.

But, even with failed asylum seekers, who some people have little sympathy for. Why, simply because they failed the strict tests to be legally allowed to stay in this country, do they deserve destitution in this country? Since 1976 the UK has been bound by the United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in which article 11 says that states should: ‘Recognise the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.’

As Mr Henderson says of migrants sleeping rough or sofa surfing, with no recourse to public funds: ‘This just should not be happening in modern Britain.’

Readers' comments (14)

  • Patrick Mc Crossan

    Whilst this should not happen its not our responsibility to care for the whole world.

    Sending people back is the real solution but of course we would breach their Human Rights on a variety of made up reasons.

    This country has too many people and a flow that never ends with new people arriving for a better life at our expense.

    Forthose who doubt this I made friends with some workers at local fast food outlets.

    I heard the intinal stories of escaping life in Iraq and other countries.

    However when I asked where staff I got to know where I was told they were on holiday back in Iraq etc.

    I asked myself when they returned after six weeks and they confirmed this.

    How can they be a refugee from countries where their life is in danger (the reason they got accepted here) and then be able to go on a holiday to that same place.

    Its a scam clearly and theres far too much of it.

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  • Jon Southall

    Children (and adults) without the means to look after themselves are certainly in a desperate situation, one which is unfortunate, difficult and will require considerable strength to rise up out of.

    I do not think that people in this situation are entitled by right to claim the wealth others have created - and no successful argument has been put forwards in support of the contrary. Though it would be right for those who care about the situation of such people to act on their compassion (to the extent they can afford to), it would not be right for them to force others to do the same.

    The sad fact that children or adults find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own, does not make it our fault either. The only help they can reasonably expect is what is offered to them by those who both want and who can afford to help them.

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  • I work for a homeless hostel. We have had many immigrants through the door and accommodated them in are night provision. We have taken the financial impact of this.

    Recently we had a client who had come through Hollyhead. Said person spoke excellent English until we asked about the past and what they had been doing in the UK. This person had no National Insurance number no job and was rough sleeping. They had infact worked for an agency and were payed £46 a week the rest was taken by the agency for the cost of the accommodation.

    When we discussed all options for accommodation i.e. to be accommodated with us you need to have to be on some form of benefit. Client was insistent that they would either stay on the night provision or sleep rough until such time they got an appointment to obtain a NINO number. We explained this could take a while due to the short length of time in the UK.

    Client was insistent and had contacted friend back in their home country who are claiming benefits.

    We eventually discussed the best option would be to repatriate. We assisted in contacting family. It was better for them to return home and start again.

    We arranged and paid for the flight and transport to get client back to home town. We took client on the day ensured they checked in.
    Unfortunately said client was seen about three days later in the local area.

    I do not know what the solution is but I was worried that the client “had contacted friend back in their home country who are claiming benefits.”

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  • Re: Patrick Mc Crossan | 06/11/2012 4:59 pm and Jono | 06/11/2012 8:27 pm

    With all due respect Patrick and Jono, I have to disagree with you. I believe the UK is hugely responsible for a number of situations that cause these refugees to seek a better life over here - whether or not they wish to return once in a while to visit families and friends.

    You use Iraq as an example, so I shall do so as well. Why is Iraq in the state it is in that their people wish to leave for safer shores? In recent memory I think that's easy to answer. The invasion of 1991 and the illegal invasion of 2003 to start with; the continued bombings of civilians in the late 90s when we weren't even supposed to be at war with Iraq; the sanctions in between that killed so many innocent people who were refused virtually any medical care and yet failed to harm the health and prosperity of those in power whom the sanctions were supposed to harm.

    Who supported and even helped finance Saddam's Ba'ath party to come to power in the first place? Who sold him all his arms in the 80s? Who also sold arms to his opponents, Iran? Who sold him the means to develop chemical weapons? Yes, that's correct - the US and the UK are the main offenders. I think this shows that their Human Rights are not "made up" as Patrick claims.

    In fact since 1914 the UK has been trying to maintain control of their oilfields and have used a variety of methods, all of which have been despicable and it makes me sad as a British person that these things have been done in our name. (And this is just one country we're talking about here - there are plenty of others showing the evidence of our involvement.) The UK, along with the US has even gone as far as ignoring everything the rest of the world says at the UN, thereby arrogantly demeaning its existence.

    Therefore I, for one am happy that we offer them an attempt to live as human beings in our society after we have repeatedly destroyed theirs.

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  • Sideboard perhaps you should become self sufficient by living in the wild foraging for yourself on nuts and berries and by building your own shelter from twigs and leaves. This way you would not be contributing to this countries ever growning need for natural resources.

    By doing this you could be safe in the knowledge that you were not a hypocrite because you would be using no petrol, gas or electricity and then your point of view on foreign policy might be taken very seriously indeed.

    On the negative side you would also have to accept that you could no longer post on this website as using a PC consumes natural resources.


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  • I thought that might get a charming response from certain members on this forum. Congratulations for being the first!

    By the way, there's some people in my road who own lovely homes that I cannot afford. Perhaps I should just steal one of them as its a resource I need.

    You do realise that we can obtain natural resources without resorting to the type of vile foreign policy methods we as a nation use? We could do the honourable thing and pay for it, or even trade with them - perhaps using some of the nuts and berries we've foraged?

    Serves those children right for allowing us to continually dominate their countries...

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  • Lots of interesting opinions but the point is that the local authority has a legal duty to look after any child in the UK, whatever their immigration status. Quite rightly we have a lot of legislation relating to the protection of children. For example the Home Secretary has the power to register any child under 18 as a British subject if the child is stateless and is not able to gain any other citizenship. All children in our society are entitled to support and accommodation – this is not an opinion – this is the law. The cause for concern here is that it would appear that local authorities are breaking the law and that is what we should be campaigning against.

    The Simon Community is working on a campaign with wider implications relating to the dereliction of duty of local authorities in discharging their responsibilities to all sorts of people experiencing homelessness. Please contact me if you have any evidence or if you have anything else to contribute to the campaign. Please see our website
    Bob Baker
    The Simon Community

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  • Well said, Sideboard!

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  • Some local authorities may seek to evade responsibility, but I have also heard them complain of those who claim to be younger than they are to obtain help. Neither of these parties is to blame. Both are trying to cope with a difficult situation not of their making.

    I'm with Sideboard, while we continue to have such inequality in the world (alongside waging war and grabbing resources) we will always have people who will do what they can to live in the communities lucky enough to have acquired those resources - whether they are from other countries or poorer parts of our own country.

    As is so often evident, our housing issues are not about housing but about inequality.

    P Righteousness - I'm not sure reducing inequality requires that we return to foraging, emptying the tax havens would be a good start.

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  • Jon Southall

    @ Bob

    Maybe, maybe. There is an inquiry into this:

    Laws can be changed - and in many cases they ought to be.

    @ Sideboard - you said you disagreed - but didn't point out what it was I wrote which was unreasonable.

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  • Sorry Jono, I wasn't clear on that point. In reference to your points:

    "I do not think that people in this situation are entitled by right to claim the wealth others have created..." and

    "The sad fact that children or adults find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own, does not make it our fault either."

    I don't think you weer being unreasonable, I was just trying to say that I think that sometimes it is our fault and as a nation we should hold up our hands for things that we are in some way or another responsible for. I don't think it's their right to claim others' wealth but I think if we're nicking others' wealth ourselves, the inequality persists and will continue to cause this to happen.

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  • Jono - Thanks for the reference - very helpful.

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  • Richard Mandunya

    Interesting debate, but so,me emotional perceptions are overlooking the facts. Children growing up as stateless will end up saddling the UK economy anyway.

    They won't have the documents to go elsewhere. The sooner they are taking into mainline services the better, unless we want to create a colony of poor ghettos, which then will bring this back through riots etc.

    Indeed, even the adult 'non-immigrants', how do you get them out of this country when they cannot afford to buy food, let alone an air ticket?

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  • Jon Southall

    Thanks for clarifying Sideboard.

    I support our armed forces, but I do not support the politics that committed them to war in Iraq. Nor it seems do you. I do not think we should accept responsibility for tragedies in Iraq for this reason. We can only be held to account for what we do.

    This is important to recognise, otherwise 'we as a nation' - meaning you, I and the rest of our British audience, would have to accept responsibility for all manner awful deeds, done by others. If we did not commit them, then I think we can hold our heads up high, and we can quite reasonably expect not to be tarred with the same brush.

    A silly example, but if your neighbour committed a crime, would it be just for you to be locked up solely because, living in the same street as him or her, you are considered guilty by association? That would surely be wrong. By the same logic, if some of 'our' people wage war, should we be guilty, purely because we share their nationality? Absolutely not.

    So we must not accept guilt, or sanction wrongful acts against us, when we have harmed no one. And when people fall onto hard times, I do not think we should be forced to help them - as that effectively makes us slaves to them, and I am against slavery.

    I hope instead people who feel compassionate and want to help, will be able to act positively - as that is the right and just way to proceed.

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