Asylum Seeker Accommodation and Mental Health

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was written by one of our guest writers, Mr. Aaron Gates-Lincoln, writer for Immigration News. The opinions expressed within reflect only the writer’s views and not The European Sting’s position on the issue.


The topic of accommodation for asylum seekers awaiting asylum decisions has been an issue discussed intensely in the world of immigration news for years. However, a new report by British Red Cross has highlighted how the UK asylum system is deeply flawed, and has increasingly caused negative impacts on individuals seeking asylum’s mental health. 

The UK asylum system currently includes individuals arriving and then being placed in accommodation by the Home Office until an asylum decision has been made. However, in recent times, the UK Home Office have struggled heavily with increasing delays in making decisions on asylum applications. This has resulted in a large number of individuals seeking asylum being placed in accommodation for months or even years. 

It would be expected that the accommodation, if being lived in for months at a time, would be safe and secure. However, the British Red Cross report has found that in many instances, asylum accommodation fails to be clean, well maintained or provide a helpful community experience for asylum seekers. This is because the Home Office has not been securing enough funding for community dispersal accommodation, and access to housing has been reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Living in inadequate accommodation has had severe mental health impacts on asylum seekers awaiting decisions. British Red Cross stated that “between January 2020 and February 2021, their teams have supported over 400 individuals living in asylum accommodation who have references to suicidal ideation or attempts recorded in their case notes”. In most instances, deterioration in mental health is due to the knock-on effects that poor accommodation can have on other areas of life. This is mirrored by research conducted by the Refugee Council, a UK charity supporting asylum seekers, who found that 61% of asylum seekers experience serious mental distress whilst refugees are 500% more likely to have mental health needs than the UK population.

It has been found that the poor system of accommodation provision promote feelings of isolation, reduces access to support services and healthcare due to being situated in remote areas and can influence bullying and hate crimes due to stigmatisation. The British Red Cross spoke to asylum seeking individuals, in which some described being survivors of trafficking and being placed in large, mixed gender hostels where they were afraid to leave their rooms. It is evident that in many cases, the reduction of costs is being prioritised over ensuring the safety and wellbeing of individuals awaiting their asylum decisions. 

In comparison, many EU countries have made changes to their legislation to ensure that some of these issues surrounding accommodation do not arise. For example, Spain introduced a law in 2015 that stated hotels and hostels could only be used for a maximum of 30 days for new arrivals. This has now been extended to 4 months due to a rise in applications, but the cap in place ensures that there are always systems in motion that aim to find more suitable accommodation for asylum seeking individuals. Furthermore, France has an initial time limit of 6 months set in place for claims decisions, which significantly reduces the need for accommodation provision. Furthermore, unlike the UK, Germany allows asylum seeking individuals to join the labour force after 3 months, giving them the option to earn money and find more suitable accommodation for themselves in a move of self-dependence. 

It is clear that changes need to be made to the UK system to improve the lives and mental health of those awaiting asylum decisions. However, with the governments ‘New Plan for Immigration’ announced in March 2021, it appears proposed changes will not greatly benefit this vulnerable group of people. One of the proposals sees the introduction of reception centres, which would be a change from securing accommodation for seekers in communities across the UK. The policy does not detail what the centres will look like, where they will be, or how long people would be accommodated in them for. However, it has been claimed that they will “allow for decisions and any appeals following rejection of an asylum claim to be processed fairly and quickly”. This insinuates that asylum seeking individuals will potentially be housed in these reception centres for the whole duration of their claim. 

British Red Cross have stated that the introduction of such centres could risk reducing contact between communities, increase feelings of isolation and harm the health and wellbeing of this vulnerable group of people. 

In order to address the culmination of the issues discussed here, the British Red Cross have also issued a number of recommendations for the Home office to improve their system. They include putting procedures in place to speed up the decision-making process, immediately ending the use of military barracks as accommodation and moving people out of hotels and into community dispersal housing. They also urge the government to place funding into the asylum process that could help individuals access mental health support and ensure that their needs are examined and met fully.

It is clear that the UK’s hostile environment approach is entrenched in all areas of immigration policy, and shows no sign of budging. Without addressing the difficulties that asylum seeking individuals face in the asylum process, it becomes less likely that these individuals may make it onto the pathways to receive ‘indefinite leave to remain’ or citizenship in the future. It is absolutely vital that pressures continue to amount against the Home Office in the hopes that some of the recommendations are considered, and the lives of those seeking asylum in the UK may be improved. 

Join the Hive!

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This farmer used an age-old technique to save his soil and now his farm is prospering

Stronger partnerships with post-conflict countries needed to ensure ‘path towards durable peace’: UN chief

EU consumer rules: Airbnb cooperates with European Commission and EU consumer authorities improving the way it presents offers

Assembly President launches new initiative to purge plastics and purify oceans

To feed 10 billion people, we must preserve biodiversity. Here’s how

Fragile countries risk being ‘stuck in a cycle of conflict and climate disaster,’ Security Council told

State aid: Commission approves €1.4 billion Swedish scheme to support uncovered fixed costs of companies affected by coronavirus outbreak

Women’s rights: MEPs call for action to fight backlash against gender equality

Tax crimes: MEPs want EU financial police force and financial intelligence unit

Reusable packaging: 6 benefits beyond sustainability

Our present and future tax payments usurped by banks

Aviation Safety: Commission adopts new EU Air Safety List

This is how COVID-19 is affecting informal workers

Eurozone stagnates after exporting its recession to trading partners

Juncker Plan reaches almost €410 billion in triggered investment across the EU

Technology can transform clinical practice – here’s how

Knowledge management and entrepreneurship: short term vs. long term perspective

The Cold War had an unintended side effect: It created a European wildlife paradise

‘Counter and reject’ leaders who seek to ‘exploit differences’ between us, urges Guterres at historic mosque in Cairo

MWC 2016 LIVE: Xiaomi looks to revive growth with flagships

How our food system is eating away at nature, and our future

Medical workforce migration in Europe – Is it really a problem?

Four things workers want implemented by their bosses post-pandemic

‘Unlock opportunities’ and pave the way for sustainable development, UN chief urges on World Population Day

This Japanese experiment shows how easily coronavirus can spread – and what you can do about it

EU and Georgia sign Financing Agreements for COVID-19 Recovery worth €129 million

Security Council urges countries to factor child protection into conflict prevention efforts

Peer-to-peer learning: a way to develop medical students’ trainings

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is driving Globalization 4.0

MEPs demand safe and clean travel

3 ways to stop COVID-19 from drying up start-up talent pools

European Business Summit 2015: In search of a vision for the future

Apple® logo (copyright: Apple)

Apple takes further step into music: EU Regulators formally approve its planned Shazam acquisition

How do we upskill a billion people by 2025? Leadership and collaboration will be key

Palliative care: an indispensable component for a better quality of life

Idea of ‘homogenous’ Polish culture is a myth: UN human rights expert

Unity, regional cooperation and international support needed for Horn of Africa to develop sustainably

How we can work together in the fight against NCDs

The first-ever climate telethon has raised $2.6 million for new forests

Parliament approves seven-year EU budget 2021-2027

Anti-terror measures against youngsters’ online posts ‘linked to spike in child detention globally’

Hiring more female leaders is good for profits. Here’s the evidence

More than nine in ten children exposed to deadly air pollution

How the world’s best teacher is changing lives in Africa

Coronavirus: Commission approves contract with BioNTech-Pfizer alliance to ensure access to a potential vaccine

Mindfulness: a freedom we can still have in the pandemic

Obama turns the G20 summit into warmongering platform

Cheese energy could power hundreds of UK homes

COVID-19: MEPs fear impact on justice system and threat to rule of law

Greek citizens to pay the price again but Tsipras risks losing next elections

5 lessons for community-focused planning during a pandemic

The challenge to be a good healthcare professional

Mental health In Times of a Pandemic: What can each Individual to lessen the Burden.

WHO and UNICEF in campaign to protect 1.6 million in Sudan from cholera

UN ready to rise above political fray and help Venezuelans based ‘on need, and need alone’

Commission notifies the Republic of Panama over the need to step up action to fight against illegal fishing

This man is helping explorers carry out scientific research at the ends of the Earth

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Cows, coffee and sustainable farming

“Smoking steam instead of tobacco, are the E-cigarettes a safer alternative?”

Wages are flatlining around the world – is automation to blame?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s