Updated: May 12, 2019
Many people think that once you are granted asylum, every problem is solved. This is far from the truth... In fact, for many refugees this is just the start of their difficult journey.
Did you know that, once granted asylum, refugees have only 28 days to secure accommodation before they are evicted from where they currently live?
Many refugees become homeless at this stage due to the impossibility of the situation. To give just one example, the Refugee Council's report '28 days later' explains how government papers can take months to arrive, meaning that people have no means of obtaining or paying for a home. As quoted in an article in the Independent from 2 years ago, which remains relevant today; "no one should be left destitute as a side effect of being granted protection in this country".
And we haven't yet touched upon the extra set of difficulties that our community face in not only being homeless, but being homeless, LGBTQ+ and a refugee. Housing Associations and Councils (as with most organisations) work on the assumption that people are cis and straight. Our members have spoken about feeling misunderstood and misrepresented by mainstream housing services, for example only being offered accommodation separately from their same-sex partner.
Though there are many LGBTQ+ people in the homeless population (up to 25%), they can find it difficult to access specific services due to a fear of revealing their identity, putting them in an even more vulnerable position. This is even more of a challenge for LGBTQ+ refugees, whose experiences of abuse in their home countries makes it unlikely they will 'come out' to those who could help them to access support. Even if they do, the majority of LGBTQ+ specific services are exclusively for young people, which represents the British-born LGBTQ+ homeless population but not refugees, who tend to be older.
At Say It Loud Club, we are committed to making it easier for LGBTQ+ refugees to access inclusive housing support as soon as they need it. We are working with Housing Associations Notting Hill Genesis and Causeway Irish Housing Association to improve their understanding of the needs of LGBTQ+ refugees, and to 'fast track' referrals from members of our community when they are in crisis.