New report examines barriers to integration across the UK

A journey towards safety report image

A new report published today examines the experiences of men and women granted refugee protection in the UK. 

With the support of Scottish Refugee Council and the British Refugee Council, researchers asked men and women from the Eritrean community about their lives since receiving refugee protection. They also asked participants for their thoughts on how to improve the various processes - applying for bank accounts, finding suitable housing etc -  that have such a huge impact on people's lives. 

The report found, once again, that receiving a positive decision on a claim for protection can signal the start of a period of intense stress and anxiety. People have just 28 days to leave their asylum accommodation, find a new home and register for various entitlements such as child benefit. This 28 day 'move on period' creates obstacles that are almost insurmountable.

A journey towards safety report 2018

 

 

One participant said: “They gave me 28 days to leave the asylum accommodation from the Government and I had to get a bank account, apply for jobcentre and apply for housing benefit and a place to live. That was hard. After they told me 28 days I knew I couldn’t do everything. The bank appointment was after two weeks and jobcentre was after a few days but it was only after 2-3 weeks I would receive my money…28 days was finished and I had to leave and didn’t have any home and still had not received money from the jobcentre.”

Participants also talked about the impact of family separation and the pain and trauma of living apart from children and spouses.

A journey towards safety report 2018

One man said: "If my mother was here, I could have good relations with my neighbours…we could bring some home-cooked food… for now they see me as a single man and are hesitant to get to know me.”

Another said: "The length of the family reunion process puts a real strain on relationships. It’s so hard when your children are somewhere else…I didn’t have the money for a DNA test. It’s very difficult to get documents like marriage certificates out of Eritrea and requesting them can put people in danger."

The report recommends the UK Government extends the circumstances in which people qualify for family reunion,  echoing proposals raised in Angus MacNeil's private members bill. This would include:

  • allowing child refugees in the UK the right to sponsor their close family, so they can rebuild their lives together and help them integrate in their new community
  • expanding who qualifies as ‘family’, so that young people who have turned 18 and elderly parents can join their family in the UK.

Gary Christie, Head of Policy at Scottish Refugee Council said:

"This report confirms what we hear from people every day about just how hard it can be to integrate into mainstream society in the UK. At Scottish Refugee Council we provide intensive one-to-one support for people to help them through the move on period and, crucially, to help people avoid destitution at this critical time. 

"But even with our support, this report illustrates that people still face very tough structural challenges. There are straightforward changes the UK government could put in place, such as extending the rigid 28 day move on period, that would make a huge difference to people's lives and give them the best chance of integrating and building firm foundations for their lives here. We are grateful to the Eritrean men and women in Glasgow who shared their experiences and insights with the research team." 

Read the full report, A Journey Towards Safety.

Find out more about how you can support the family reunion campaign.