[noborders-brum] Fwd: Birmingham home to a 'hidden underclass'

phunkee at aktivix.org phunkee at aktivix.org
Mon Jun 19 15:52:25 UTC 2006

Confirmation that refugee destitution is as acute as ever in Birmingham

----- Forwarded message from John O <ncadc at ncadc.org.uk> -----
    Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2006 16:26:54 +0100
    From: John O <ncadc at ncadc.org.uk>
Reply-To: John O <ncadc at ncadc.org.uk>
 Subject: Birmingham home to a 'hidden underclass'
      To: Recipient List Suppressed@

Birmingham home to a 'hidden underclass'

By Emma Pinch Birmingham Post  June 19th 2006

Homeless failed asylum seekers have created a 'hidden underclass' of 
about 2,000 people in Birmingham, according to a study commissioned 
by churches in the city.

The homeless plight of the vast majority is masked because most are 
sleeping on the floors of friends and of others in their community 
with up to 14 people living in one terraced house, according to 

The results have been released as part of National Refugee Week, 
which starts today.

The study, carried out between October 2004 and March 2005, warned 
that the number of asylum seekers heading to Birmingham had not 
fallen since the study and the problem led to an increased risk of 
those affected turning to crime.

About 70 per cent of those considered destitute - principally from 
Iraq, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Somalia and Iran, as well as EU 
accession countries - have exhausted all appeals for asylum and have 
been evicted from accommodation provided by the Government's National 
Asylum Support System (NASS) and had benefits terminated.

About 10 per cent have had their claim accepted but have not had the 
paperwork entitling them to benefits and alternative living quarters.

Others are thought to have complicated legal claims and poor or no 
proper legal advice, or are mentally or physically vulnerable and 
have 'fallen through the net'. The study, entitled Destitution of 
Asylum-Seekers and Refugees in Birmingham, was commissioned by 
Birmingham Churches Together and the Church Urban Fund.

"It seems that the vast majority are relying on the support of 
friends and people from their communities," said the report. "Very 
few are sleeping on the streets and the assumption is that most are 
sleeping in very overcrowded accommodation.

"We have gone back to the '50s and '60s when newlyarrived immigrant 
communities survived through kinship but often in atrocious 
conditions, such as having 14 people in a small terraced house," said 
one of the researchers.

The danger is that the refugees slip into a life of crime or work in 
the black economy.

"I remember working in Kings Cross in London and doing street work 
with young women who had come down from Northern cities to work in 
prostitution," said a spokesman from one charity group.

"The only difference now is that instead of being from Sheffield they 
are more likely to be from Romania."

The precise number of refugees in the city is unknown as accurate 
records are not kept - one of the major problems in Birmingham, 
according to the report.

NASS insists there are only 30 destitute asylum seekers in 
Birmingham. But the Regional Consortium for Refugees and Asylum 
Seekers puts the figure at 10,000 and the Refugee Network estimates 
it is between 5-10,000.

The Red Cross believes the number is on the rise.

"Sadly the situation is very likely to get worse," concluded one of 
the authors of the report.

"Although the numbers of asylum-seekers nationally has decreased, 
this has not necessarily been mirrored in the numbers of people 
coming to Birmingham, which continues to be a city that many refugees 
are attracted to."

It claimed the laws of the land had deliberately created a "new underclass".

"Not allowed to work, not allowed to claim support, not allowed to 
exist," it said. "If they remain hidden and out of sight then perhaps 
the problem does not exist. But of course it does and this small 
study has confirmed that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of 
destitute refugees and asylum-seekers in Birmingham."

National Refugee Week aims to raise awareness of the plight of 
refugees and highlight the contribution they have made to British 
----- End forwarded message -----

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