Coping with Destitution: Survival and Livelihood Strategies of Refused Asylum seekers Living in the UK

Heaven Crawley, Neil Price, Joanne Hemmings

    Research output: Book/ReportOther report


    UK asylum policy has increasingly restricted asylum seekers' access to welfare support, both while their application is being processed and if they are refused. Over recent years, there have been growing concerns about the scale and impact of destitution among refused asylum seekers. It is estimated that 283,500 refused asylum seekers were living in the UK in 2005, and this number seems likely to have increased (NAO 2005). Existing evidence suggests that many asylum seekers have been destitute for more than six months and a significant proportion for more than two years. This strongly indicates that refused asylum seekers are prepared to face long periods of destitution in the UK rather than returning to their country of origin. This research uncovers how the hundreds of thousands of people currently living in the UK, with no access to legitimate means of securing a livelihood, survive on a day-to-day
    and longer-term basis. The strategies adopted by destitute asylum seekers have been analysed within a sustainable livelihoods framework, to ensure a systematic understanding of the different types of resources to which asylum seekers do – and do not – have access, and the impact this has on their lives. This approach also allows us to identify changes to government policy that could help prevent destitution among refused asylum seekers. Fundamentally, the need to remain hidden and to avoid any risk of being deported affects every decision made by destitute asylum seekers, and in turn the coping strategies which they adopt.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherOxfam GB
    Commissioning bodyOxfam
    Number of pages69
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Refugees
    • Asylum Seekers
    • Destitution
    • livelihoods
    • United Kingdom
    • Public Policy
    • Integration


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