Destitution in Leeds

The experiences of people seeking asylum and supporting agencies

Author: Lewis, Hannah

Author Organisation: The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

Date: 2007



To explore the impact of destitution on asylum seekers and agencies in Leeds which is one of the major dispersal cities. 


The report draws on the following methodologies: a four-week survey of destitute clients; interviews with refused asylum seekers and local agencies; a questionnaire for church networks and the Leeds refugee and asylum multi-agency meeting; focus group with refugee community organisations; focus groups with housing and homelessness agencies; participation observation with staff, volunteers and clients at drop-ins. The survey data was analysed using SPPS.

Key Findings

The survey-based report indicated that:

  • Refused asylum seekers remain in the UK for long periods of time and are subjected to destitution;
  • Main target groups originate from countries engaged in conflicts and human rights violations and therefore can not be returned so easily;
  • The New Asylum Model (NAM) has the potential to leave the problem of destitution unsolved;
  • There is a lack of official response for rough sleeping among destitute asylum seekers.


The report makes the following recommendations for the solution of the problem of destitution among asylum seekers:

  • Provide asylum seekers with access to labour markets by allowing them the right to work
  • Improve legal representation and decision-making for asylum claims
  • Improve the access to information on support and strengthen the dialogue between refugees agencies, statutory bodies and the Home office
  • Monitor the implications of the New Asylum Model and consequently address the need for better quality of decisions; timeframes; training for staff
  • availability of options for voluntary return.

The report also makes the following concluding points:

  • The figures show that destitution is widespread and that rejected asylum seekers are the largest affected group;
  • Destitution is created when support is being linked with asylum claims;
  • Destitution is not connected with pull factors and does not encourage people to return to their countries of origin;
  • Current policy is not an adequate response to the issue of destitution among asylum seekers;
  • Research reveals that a significant number of rejected asylum seekers are not able to return to their country of origin;
  • Exploration of choices made by forced migrants at various stages of the migration process is a good field for further research.


Title Information:


Web Link: Available online


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