Everyone needs their home to provide safety, stability, and community – especially those who have had to leave their home and start again. The communities we call home give us our sense of safety and belonging.
Most refugees will have experienced a great deal of displacement and poor treatment before arriving in the UK, making this feeling of safety even more important.
In addition, people seeking asylum all have a unique set of experiences, needs, and wishes. Their housing should be able to accommodate these. If it can’t do that, it will always be inadequate.
The accommodation principles outlined below were developed during a time of crisis in the asylum accommodation system. Since then, the quality of housing people live in while waiting for a response to their asylum claim has worsened. The crisis has deepened.
Since 2020 Refugee Action has witnessed an exponential increase in cases of desperately inadequate and unsafe housing. Ceilings were collapsing on babies, rat infestations were commonplace and never getting fixed, leaks and chronic damp were leaving accommodation unliveable. This is both horrifying and completely unacceptable.
Rather than improving conditions for people seeking safety, the Government decided to move people away from our communities and into institutional accommodation in isolated areas.
Institutional asylum accommodation, such as Napier Barracks, aims to keep people out of sight and out of mind instead of safe and settled. This will never be appropriate. People seeking asylum are not boxes that need to be packed into a warehouse. They are human beings who need to live within our communities, to be safe, healthy and start their lives again.
So, we know what we don’t want to see. We see examples of it every day. But what do we want to see in asylum accommodation? What should a home have?