27 July, 2022
Campaigning for a society where no one is left behind
Housing and Homelessness Programme / Partner story
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels.
In 2021, as the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic persisted, many of our grantee partners across the UK and the US focused on ensuring safe and secure homes for migrant communities, particularly for those who are undocumented, such as refugees, asylum seekers, and those with uncertain immigration status.
Sayeda was one of these people. Escaping an abusive marriage, the local council in East London and other service providers refused to provide her support. Because her visa was attached to her husband’s, her status in the UK was uncertain, and she did not have access to public funds. Pregnant and homeless, she found herself on the street.
Sayeda approached Praxis, a not-for-profit organisation for migrants and refugees, for help, and the legal team worked with her to challenge her status. In the UK, the immigration policy No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) excludes people with certain migration statuses from accessing aspects of social security, including people who are fleeing from or who are survivors of abuse. Praxis made sure that Sayeda was safely housed, first in a refuge, and then in Praxis’s housing project.
After a few months, Sayeda’s immigration status changed and she was allowed to remain in the UK. Able to access public funds, she moved into mainstream, safe housing with her baby, Ruli. “I was alone, pregnant, on the streets during the pandemic, with no support,” says Sayeda. “If Praxis hadn’t been there, what would have happened to me? Domestic abuse survivors have nowhere to go – we can’t go back to our husbands and to our countries, it’s unsafe for us and we would fall back into abuse. Everyone should have access to support when they face domestic abuse – no matter where we are from or what kind of papers we have.”
Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown in 2021, Praxis continued to provide essential services for migrants and refugees in London, while also working towards systemic change. By addressing the housing needs of migrant women and children who face destitution, Praxis has learned that people have a greater chance of resolving their uncertain immigration status and securing safe housing, if they receive early access to immigration advice.
Praxis has learned from supporting women like Sayeda, and raised awareness of the critical difference early immigration advice can have in preventing homelessness for people with NRPF. This saves the local authorities time and money. As a result, the local authorities that Praxis works with increasingly recognise immigration advice as integral to the services it offers migrant communities.
Recently, Praxis set up a NRPF Action Group to tackle the inequality created by the NRPF rule. The group is made up of migrants fighting for equality, justice, and fairness for all. You can read the group’s manifesto, Living with Dignity: A Campaign to End No Recourse to Public Funds Policy, here: www.praxis.org.uk/campaigning
This grant falls under our Housing and Homelessness programme, which supports organisations that use their understanding of individual problems that people experience, to expose and change faults in systems. You can find more about the programme and its strategy overview by clicking here.