Designing homelessness out of the asylum and immigration system

As a signatory on the open letter below, SJOG is actively addressing these issues in its work as the largest provider of safe houses to people who have been trafficked or subject to modern day slavery, in its work at Olallo House, and in partnership with the Good Shepherd. Much is being done to tackle homelessness, but there is so much more to be done.

Homeless Link logo NACCOM The no accomodation network logo

Dear Party Leaders,

We write to you as organisations and charities, many of us frontline services, that support and advocate for migrants experiencing, and at risk of, homelessness and destitution due to the asylum and immigration system.

We believe that the General Election provides an important opportunity for the next government to end homelessness for everyone.

Homelessness has a devastating impact on people and communities. It strips people of dignity and agency, puts them at risk, and prevents them from thriving and fully participating in their communities and wider society. No one should become, or remain, homeless because of their immigration status or their interaction with the asylum system.

However, due to the current asylum and immigration system, many migrants are made much more vulnerable to experiencing homelessness, or face additional barriers to moving on from homelessness, than people with British citizenship. Preventing homelessness must be considered an essential part of the asylum and immigration system, alongside greater collaboration with housing, welfare, voluntary and statutory services, and improved recourse to justice through our legal systems.

Together, the next government, alongside charities and people with lived experience, can deliver both the immediate and long-term changes needed to ensure the asylum and immigration system no longer drive migrants into homelessness, and instead contributes to preventing and ending homelessness for all.

To achieve this, the next government should ensure that;

  • A cross-departmental approach is taken to tackling rough sleeping and homelessness.
  • Changes to the immigration and asylum system do not actively contribute to an increase in migrant homelessness.
  • The flow of homelessness from the asylum system is stopped.
  • Fair access to quality legal advice is improved and expanded.
  • The impact of restrictions on public funds on homelessness are confronted and addressed.

Finally, any government that is committed to ending homelessness must focus on evidence-based solutions, including those set out above, that will strengthen our communities for the benefit of all, rather than divide and weaken them through punitive, discriminatory policies and inflammatory rhetoric that scapegoat and marginalise migrants.

No strategy to end homelessness can be achieved without ending homelessness for everyone and that must include those made homeless because of the immigration and asylum system. We stand ready to collaborate with the next government to deliver the changes needed to achieve this.

Yours sincerely,

Rick Henderson, CEO, Homeless Link

Bridget Young, Director, NACCOM

Matt Downie, Chief Executive, Crisis

Enver Solomon, Chief Executive, Refugee Council

Andrea Cleaver, CEO, Welsh Refugee Council Emma

Haddad, Chief Executive, St Mungos

Polly Neate, CEO, Shelter

Alison Watson, Director, Shelter Scotland

Shān Nicholas, Interim Chief Executive, Praxis

Kate Henderson, CEO, National Housing Federation

Dr Jan Sheldon, Chief Executive, St Martins

Paul Kissack, Group Chief Executive, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust

Phil Kerry, Chief Executive, New Horizon

Charlotte Talbott, Chief Executive, Emmaus UK

Bonnie Williams, CEO, Housing Justice

Natalie King, Head of Development, St Martin-in-the-Fields Charity

Steve Crane, CEO, Target Housing

Jayni Gudka, CEO, Unseen Tours

Jodie Geddes, CEO, AMAT UK

John Holmstrom, Chief Executive, Turning Tides

Andrew Redfern, Chief Executive, Framework

Luke O'Neil, Assistant Director, Cranstoun

Liz Rutherfoord, Chief Executive, Single Homeless Project

Rob Payne, Director of Homeless services, HOPE Worldwide

Marie Davie, CEO, Falcon Support Services

Paul Roberts, CEO, Aspire Oxford

Haley Roberge, Project Worker, Barons Court Project

Lawrence Santcross, Chief Executive, Transform

Ewan Aitken, Chief Executive Officer, Cyrenians

James Martin, Director, Cambridge Cyrenians

Mel Steel, Director, Voices in Exile

Kerry Smith, CEO, Helen Bamber Foundation

Rachael Bee, Director: Partnerships, Refugee Welcome Homes

Amanda Dubarry, Chief Executive, Your Place

Fatou Cham Gitteh, Founding Trustee, Ubuntu-Glasgow

Amanda Croome, Head of Homelessness, Caritas Diocese of Salford

Jared Hodgson, CEO, Hope at Home

Ros Holland, Chief Exec, Boaz Trust

Andy Durma, Interim Chief Executive, West End Refugee Service

Louise Calvey, Executive Director, Asylum Matters

Richard Gammage, Chief Executive, Two Saints

Tom O’Connor, CEO, Providence Row

Phil Davis, Director, Hope Projects

Aderonke Apata, Founder and CEO, African Rainbow Family

Jonny Whitehead, CEO, Herts Young Homeless

Sian Summers-Rees, CO, City of Sanctuary UK

William Gomes, Director, The William Gomes Podcast

John Glenton, Executive Director of Care and Support, The Riverside Group

Amanda Church-Mcfarlane, Co-CE0, Abigail Housing

Maya Esslemont, Director, After Exploitation

Zoe Gardner, Independent Migration Policy Researcher

Denise McDowell, Chief Executive, Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit

David Powles, CEO, Norfolk Community Law Service

Tim Naor Hilton, Chief Executive, Refugee Action

Emma Hutton, CEO, JustRight Scotland

Natalie Allen, Chief Executive Officer, SIFA Fireside

Joanne MacInnes, Director, West London Welcome

Eiri Ohtani, Director, Right to Remain

Eleanor Brown, CEO, CARAS

Dr. Nazee Akbari, Chief Executive Officer, New Citizens’ Gateway

Traci Kirkland, Head of Charity, Govan Community Project

Catharine Walston, Trustee, Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign

Sarah Forster, Director, Scottish Child Law Centre

Christine Mathewson, Trustee, RADAR

Aaliya Seyal, Chief Executive Officer, Legal Services Agency

Lisa Norcross, Project Manager, Kairos Housing

Béatrice Humarau, Executive Coordinator, The Bridge Plus+

Mariam Yusuf, Co-Chair Person, StatusNow4All Network

Andrea Vukovic, Deputy Director, Women for Refugee Women

Ted Britton, Chair of Trustees, West Yorkshire Destitute Asylum Network (WYDAN)

Mhairi Snowden, Director, Human Rights Consortium Scotland

Rob Edmonds, Deputy CEO/Head of Services, New Hope

Nick Redmore, Territorial Director, The Salvation Army Homelessness Services

Paul Bott, CEO, SJOG Hospitaller Services

Dom Wood, CEO, 1625 Independent People

Tim Fallon, Chief Executive, SPEAR

Paola Uccellario, CEO, Young Roots

Zita Holbourne, Co-founder & National Chair, BARAC UK

Salma Ravat, CEO, One Roof Leicester

Dilara Harvey-Smith, Director, Room to Heal

Adam Colthorpe, Director of communications, Porchlight

Jo Carter, CEO, Glass Door Homeless Charity

Mariko Hayashi, Executive Director, Southeast and East Asian Centre

Sam Price, CEO, Beyond Detention

Sarah Wilson, Director, Penrith and Eden Refugee Network

Susan Cueva, Trustee, Gabriela Safehaven - Southeast and East Asian Women Association

James Boultbee, CEO, Wycombe Homeless Connection

Gisela Valle, Director, LAWRS Rainbow Migration

David Ford, CEO and Founder, Expert Link

Shari Brown, Chair, Birmingham City of Sanctuary

Sophie Wickham, Director, Action for Refugees in Lewisham

Frankie Gaynor, Advocacy Manager, Migrant Democracy Project

Rabbi David Mason, Executive Director, HIAS+JCORE

Stuart Crosthwaite, Secretary, South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group

Gavin Smart, CEO, Chartered Institute of Housing

Sebastian Rocca, Founder and CEO, Micro Rainbow

Ekta Marwaha, Chief Executive Officer, Refugee Sanctuary Scotland

Lesley Howard, Head of Homelessness, Change Grow Live

Ewan Roberts, Centre Manager, Asylum Link Merseyside

Seana Roberts, Manager, Merseyside Refugee Support Network

Yvonne Pinner, Project Director, Oxfordshire Homeless Movement

Simon Tyler, Executive Director, Doctors of the World UK

Qerim Nuredini, Interim Director, Bristol Hospitality Network

Lauren Scott, CEO, Refugees at Home

Nick Beales, Head of Campaigning, Refugee & Migrant Forum of Essex and London RAMFEL

Becky Hellewell, Head of Support & Immigration, St Augustines Centre

Sarah Lister, COO, Oasis Community Housing

Tim Archbold, Chief Executive Officer, Signposts

Sarah Teather, Director, Jesuit Refugee Service UK

Kenneth Marshall, Principal Solicitor, Dundee Law Centre

Mick Clarke, Chief Executive, The Passage

Ailsa Dunn, Secretary, Hay Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees

Joanna Pieńkowska, Policy and Campaigns Coordinator, Haringey Migrant Support Centre

Geeta Nanda OBE, Chief Executive, Metropolitan Thames Valley

Maggie Brünjes, Chief Executive, Homeless Network Scotland

Dr Beth Watts-Cobbe, Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director, Institute of Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research

Anika Joy, Programme Director, Simon Community Scotland

Nicola McCrudden, Chief Executive Officer, Homeless Connect