Case studies from some of our service users.
KI is a single mother of two children from Nigeria. She came to the UK after escaping violence and abuse in her country of origin. Despite having two British born sons, KI has been refused leave to remain. She is currently working with a solicitor (legal aid) to appeal the refusal based on her right to be present in the UK with her children, as their mother and sole carer.
KI has no recourse to public funds and is not allowed to work. She had been living in the sitting room of a friend’s house for the past few years, but the relationship had broken down due to the poor living conditions and cramped space, and she had been forced out. KI and her children were out on the street with nowhere to go, and no money.
KI came to AFRIL for support, and we immediately supported her to present to the council as homeless. The Advice and Outreach Officer supported her with preparing her documents to take to the assessment team at Lewisham Council and attended the interview with her.
Initially KI was refused support, as the NRPF team insisted that she had an eviction letter. Due to the precarious living situation at the former property, KI was unable to obtain this, which caused a great deal of stress. The Advice and Outreach Officer supported KI to secure a legal aid housing solicitor to review the refusal. The decision was reviewed, and KI and her children were given accommodation through the council.
We continue to support KI through our Helping Hands Food Bank and through regular casework follow up to ensure that she is safe and stable.
MJA is an asylum seeker from Bangladesh. He arrived in the UK in 1999 after surviving violence in his country of origin. MJA is entitled to asylum support, through the Home Office asylum support system. Whilst their claim is pending, asylum-seekers are entitled to accommodation and subsistence support, as they are not allowed to work and have no recourse to public funds. The subsistence payments are enough for food, toiletries and basic items, and serve as an asylum-seekers only form of income.
MJA was told that he was entitled to the support in September 2018, but by November 2018, we have still not had an offer from the Home Office. MJA was told that there was no accommodation available but was also advised that he could not access the subsistence payments without the accommodation. MJA came to us as he was homeless, sleeping on people’s sofa’s and on the streets in Lewisham, and was destitute.
The Advice and Outreach Officer at AFRIL has been liaising with the asylum accommodation team and has been asking for regular updates. We have supported MJA to contact the local MP, who is now following up accommodation with the Home Office. In the meantime, AFRIL has supported MJA with hostel accommodation, before finding him a room through a hosting scheme – Refugees at Home. We have ensured that MJA is safe and away from rough sleeping and have supported him with food and basic items through the Helping Hands Food Bank.
The Advice and Outreach Officer has been working closely with MJA to secure a legal aid solicitor and ensured that he had representation for his substantive asylum interview in November.
FK, Ivory Coast:
FK is a single mother of three children. She was granted leave to remain for 2.5 years when she divorced from her husband, after surviving domestic violence. FK has no recourse to public funds and has no contact with family members to support her.
FK had been living in a private rented property which she had previously shared with her partner. When she received her leave to remain, all her benefits were stopped, and she was unable to pay the rent. The landlord threatened to evict FK, even though this was illegal as they had not been through the official process. FK was assessed by AFRIL as being destitute, with no income, cash or savings, and no support network. FK had been supported by the Food Bank throughout this period.
AFRIL supported FK to approach the local council for subsistence support and worked with her to prepare her documents for the assessment. AFRIL made a referral to the organisation NELMA who are an accompanying scheme, and who have supported FK with follow up appointments, so that she does not have to go alone. The assessments had been very tiring and traumatic, and it has helped to have accompaniers present to support.
FK had been told that she was not eligible for free school meals for her children, as she was not in receipt of benefits. A condition of accessing free school meals is that at least one parent is in receipt of welfare benefits. As FK is a single mother with no recourse to public funds, her children were denied access. AFRIL worked with FK to review the decision made by the school, which was accepted in November 2018. The children now have access to a hot meal whilst at school.
AFRIL provided further support to FK by making a referral to a women’s support organisation who are able to work with FK through her trauma as a survivor of domestic violence. FK has been able to access the support that she is entitled to and is no longer dependent on the Food Bank.