In 2014 the British Red Cross published The move-on period: an ordeal for new refugees. This research looked at the evidence from our service users in Birmingham and Plymouth who received leave to remain in the UK as refugees, but then struggled to avoid a period of destitution as they sought to move from the asylum support system to either work or mainstream benefits. The report highlighted a series of practical recommendations for the Home Office, the DWP, Job Centre Plus and the British Red Cross to help improve this transition period for new refugees. See: http://www.redcross.org.uk/en/About-us/Advocacy/Refugees/Ending-destitution
This report led to a constructive meeting with the Home Office Minister and engagement with the DWP Minister and then a series of meetings with key officials. As a result the internal JCP guidance has been revised based on the learning from this report, and new refugees will shortly receive a new letter from the Home Office and DWP based on a pilot letter used by our team in Bristol with their local JCP to help them assert their rights during this period.
While there have been some positive changes arising from this report, we remain of the view that 28 days is not enough time to make the transition from asylum support and we intend to use this research and new research to make the case for a longer period of move-on to ensure that no refugee gaining the right to remain in the UK is plunged into destitution.
Jonathan Ellis is the head of policy, research and advocacy at the British Red Cross. He is also a visiting lecturer at City University in London on the MA in political communication. In addition he leads advocacy campaigns training for BOND, INTRAC, NVCO and the Sheila McKechnie Foundation. Previously he was director of advocacy at the British Refugee Council, chief executive at the Empty Homes Agency and has led UK and international campaigns for Oxfam GB. He has extensive experience of delivering advocacy campaigns training and support across the world including: Bangladesh, Haiti, Lithuania, Nigeria, Somaliland, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tanzania, and Thailand. Among his voluntary roles, Jonathan is Chairman of the Bishop Simeon Trust (supporting orphans and vulnerable children in South Africa), and Vice-Chair of City of Sanctuary (building a national movement in defence of asylum seekers and refugees). Born in South Africa, he was educated at Durham (BA Hons History), Leicester (PGCE), and Loughborough (MBA) universities.
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