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British Red Cross reports rise in destitute asylum seekers and refugees in 2016

Date of Publication: 
6 February 2017

Charity sees a 10 per cent increase in numbers helped by its destitution services across the UK

British Red Cross reports rise in destitute asylum seekers and refugees in 2016

06 February 2017

The British Red Cross reported last week that destitution is on the rise among refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, with increasing numbers requiring food parcels and clothing.

The British Red Cross is the UK's largest provider of support to refugees and asylum seekers and has destitution services in around 50 towns and cities.

Figures from the British Red Cross show that 14,909 people were helped last year – a 10 per cent increase over 2015.

The British Red Cross says that figure reflects the number of people supported by destitution services and their dependants, though the true number of destitute refugees and asylum seekers in the UK is likely to be even higher.

Leicester, London and Cardiff saw the highest number of destitute asylum seekers and refugees last year.

Channel 4 News covered the Red Cross' findings into destitution and you can watch the video here.

The British Red Cross notes that the most common reasons for asylum seekers becoming destitute are problems with asylum support payments, or support being stopped or suspended when an asylum claim is refused.

New refugees also frequently become destitute, the British Red Cross adds, as they only have a 28-day grace period before their asylum support is ended.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said: "It's clear that our asylum system can leave anyone destitute, including individuals who the Home Office has deemed in need of international protection. No one should be left homeless after fleeing the devastating conflict in Syria or persecution in Eritrea. Instead of creating a more hostile system which puts even more people at risk of living hand to mouth, we want to work with the government to address this largely hidden crisis."

In response, the Independent quoted a Home Office spokesperson as saying: "Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are supported by the Home Office. The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection, but those who are refused asylum and have exhausted their appeal rights are expected to leave the UK."

Further details of the British Red Cross' work to support refugees and asylum seekers can be found here, and details of your nearest Red Cross office can be found here.