Posted by: Emily Twinch06/11/2012
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.’
From Who cares?
Analysis of the latest developments in supported housing, homelessness and work with vulnerable people