More than 100 asylum seekers and refugees living in forced destitution

12 June 2012

The survey included individuals at all stages of the asylum process

The survey included individuals at all stages of the asylum process

More than a hundred asylum seekers and refugees living in Glasgow are destitute, meaning being prevented from either working or accessing financial support, according to a snapshot survey conducted by a Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) researcher earlier this year.  
The research, carried out by Glasgow Caledonian University’s Morag Gillespie, counted the number of people who presented as destitute to 13 support agencies and services over a one-week period from 5th March to 11th March 2012.
The average time destitute was one and a half years, though one survey participant had been destitute for as long as six and a half years. 
Almost one in four of the clients seen by the six agencies which provide dedicated services to asylum seekers in Glasgow were destitute – 88 people out of a total of 364 total clients. 
The survey included individuals at all stages of the asylum process, from those yet to register their claim to those who have been granted refugee status.  However the largest group are people who have been refused asylum whose appeal rights are exhausted and have no access to public funds; they account for two thirds of all responses. This group represents the main and most difficult situation in which people seeking asylum face destitution.
People surveyed came from 29 different countries, the most common recorded being from Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
The findings of the survey will be launched at an event for a range of stakeholders to discuss destitution and the asylum system to be held at Glasgow Caledonian University on Tuesday June 12, before the start of Refugee Week which runs from June 18 to June 24. 
The survey was commissioned by the charities Refugee Survival Trust, the British Red Cross and Scottish Refugee Council and carried out by lead researcher Morag Gillespie from GCU’s Scottish Poverty Information Unit. 
Morag Gillespie said: “Coping with destitution for any length of time at all is a traumatic experience, but to do so for more than a year and a half – the average time as revealed in this study - is a truly bleak existence. I was both impressed and inspired to learn of some of the strategies which interviewees have adopted to cope with the immense pressures, for example volunteering.”    
Gary Christie, Scottish Refugee Council’s Head of Policy said: “Destitution is not a policy failure by the Home Office, it is a policy outcome. The deliberate use of withdrawing financial support as a means of forcing refused asylum seekers out of the country is not only inhumane, it is ineffective. It’s time to end this scandal.” 
He added: “Many of those refused and forced into de