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CASE STUDY: Housing and reintegration support

This case study documents how we assisted a female refugee client that was referred to us via Manchester refugee Support Network (MRSN).

We document and go through each stage of the process. We hope you find the case study useful, giving you an idea of the lifecycle of how we can help refugees in the Greater Manchester area.

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Client background

The client was referred to us due to the client’s complex background. Upon referral, we determined that:

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  • Client is a 34-year-old single female.
  • Client had been granted refugee status one month prior to the referral being made.
  • Client is currently sofa surfing in Manchester.
  • Client had made an application for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) but was yet to receive payments.

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On speaking to the client it was discovered that upon being granted refugee status in Liverpool, she left her NASS accommodation in accordance to the notice to quit issued through the Home Office. She subsequently moved to Manchester and was currently sofa surfing.

Assessment of the client’s situation

Initial advice given to the client around her housing is that as she was granted status in Liverpool, then it is her local council – Liverpool City Council in this case – that had a duty to house her. This meant that Manchester City Council would refer her back to Liverpool. The client was also unable to demonstrate a local connection to the Manchester area. Her only reason for moving was social isolation and that she had no friends in Liverpool.

At this point, the client was also informed that Stride Partnership does not have a housing stock in Manchester City Centre. However we did have an arrangement with a Salford based housing provider to house single female refugees. The arrangement was set up following an influx of referrals from single females being granted refugee status. They are able to provide secure rooms at LHA rates if Stride Partnership agreed to provide clients with reintegration support.

The client was taken to the apartment and the tenancy explained to her including her rights and responsibilities. Our arrangement with the housing provider meant that she was exempt from providing a deposit and advance. She then signed up for a six-month tenancy.

Examples of difficulties that are commonplace with refugee tenancies

Two weeks into tenancy client advised me that she was unable to apply for benefits as she had sent her biometrics residence card back to the Home Office due to an error on her date of birth.

Her JSA application was on hold pending national insurance allocations. The national insurance number application was on hold pending client eligibility, which also had a knock on effect on her housing and council tax benefit.

These were exceptional circumstances and we wanted to protect our relationship with the housing provider.

Managing relationships with third party agencies

Instead of causing any further delays by referring client onto third party advice agencies like CAB, it was decided that a case management approach would be most appropriate for the client and for the housing provider. The steps taken by Stride Partnership for case resolution were:

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  • Contacting Home Office to get an update on the BRP
  • Contacting National Insurance allocations to get a NINO issued to the client.
  • Contacting Housing Benefit Office to assist client to make an application for housing benefit due to zero income.
  • Referrals made to food banks and soup kitchens in the local area.

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When nothing transpired after 28 days, it was decided that we would advocate on clients behalf and escalate the client’s case with the Home Office due to them not issuing another BRP even though they had confirmed the receipt of the original.

Client would be able to get JSA if she had a national insurance number so this was escalated on her behalf.

Once this was resolved, client was still unable to receive any payments from the jobcentre as she did not have a bank account. She was unable to provide any original ID to open a standard bank account as the ID was still with the Home Office.

The client ultimately contacted her local MP as it was coming up to two months without any source of income. The MP was able to get the issue resolved for the client and in all, the process took almost two months to resolve.

Outcome of the process

While the above was eventually resolved, it is not an ideal scenario whereby a client has to contact an MP to expedite documents from the Home Office.

The housing provider was very understanding and as we had stepped in to advocate on the clients behalf they were more than willing to wait for payment. They only made allowances as this client was a direct referral from Stride Partnership and that we were able to case manage the client from sign up up until the housing provider was in payment. Unfortunately they do not have the resources to do this with all clients.

End of the process to November 2017

After the six months was complete client was able to secure more stable housing by getting a reference from the housing provider and Stride Partnership.

Ultimately, the client was provided with the information and resources to able to find alternative accommodation independently. She has learnt to understand her rights and responsibilities and been able to successfully budget. We anticipate she will return to continued sessions as and when she needs support.

On a final note, as of November 2017, the client is currently working full time as a support worker and living in a one-bedroom apartment.

 

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