A HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY ON OUR DOORSTEP…
London 2017. Thousands of destitute migrants find themselves in limbo without any financial support or ability to return home. They are excluded from welfare benefits and local authority assistance. Most of the charities providing accommodation require housing benefits, which they cannot access. They are also barred from working.
They may have a strong asylum case which has been badly handled, leaving them in limbo. They may be migrant women, sometimes with children, fleeing from abusive and violent partners, unable to access a refuge. They may be young people who have been in London since their early teens, refused the right to go on with their life past 18 years of age.
What is officially termed as ‘no recourse to public funds’ is in fact an exclusion from basic human rights, such as food and shelter, for people who have already fled from war-torn countries and other situations where they have been persecuted for their political or religious beliefs or their membership of a particular social group. The additional prohibition to work puts people in a situation where they truly have no recourse, stripped of all possible means to exist.
Panic overwhelms anyone asking themselves for the first time: ‘Where will I sleep tonight?’ When this becomes a weekly or daily occurrence, no one ever gets used to it. Absolute loneliness appears instead and incapacitating powers take hold. Homelessness opens the way to illness and exploitation.