Asylum seekers wait months and sometimes years to hear if they’ve been granted refugee status so they can live and work in the UK. However, this is not the happy ending you might expect, in fact, it’s just the beginning of a whole new set of hurdles.

Jawad* was referred into our Action Letting service having been granted refugee status. He’d spent a short time street-homeless after coming out of Asylum Support accommodation. His lack in confidence around speaking English was really holding him back, and his troubles were starting to seriously pile up as a result.

Tough situation

Jawad had lost his Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This is a crucial card which holds a migrant’s biographic details (name, date and place of birth) along with their biometric information (facial image and fingerprints), as well as showing their immigration status and entitlements.

His bank account had suddenly closed which then meant that he couldn’t receive his benefits. He also hadn’t received a copy of his Home Office interview, which was important evidence that he needed to be able to bring his family to join him in the UK.

One issue was leading to another, and things were really not looking good for Jawad. Action Foundation’s support couldn’t have come at a better time.

Support Worker steps in

Jawad was assigned his own specialist Support Worker on the Action Letting team, who immediately started to help him tackle the barriers to settling into a positive life in the UK.

He was offered free community language classes via Action Language so he could start to gain confidence in speaking English and get his independence back.

We supported him to apply for a BRP replacement – this included helping him to pay replacement fees and booking the appointment for him. Jawad would have to wait three weeks for a new permit to arrive.

Banking conundrum

Meanwhile we helped to get his benefits payments back on track. This was a bit more tricky with his bank account having been closed, and a new account out of reach until his BRP showed up.

A note was added to Jawad’s Universal Credit portal by his work coach, stating that his benefits payment date was due, but they needed new bank details.

It was suggested that Jawad use the bank details of someone he trusted to get his payment of Universal Credit while he was in the process of opening a new bank account. Luckily his housemate agreed to provide his bank details so that Jawad could access his payment.

The Support Worker challenged Nationwide for closing Jawad’s bank account, but they claimed it was due to an ongoing fraud investigation. There was no way to reopen his account or create a new account with Nationwide. Citizen’s Advice advised to wait until the investigation had finished – but this could have taken months.

Breakthrough moment

Finally there was light on the horizon for Jawad when his BRP replacement arrived and the Support Worker was able to help him open a Monzo bank account – this is not at risk of closure (unlike other banks).

The Support Worker emailed Jawad’s solicitor requesting a copy of his Home Office interview, who responded with the full copy of the transcript. Jawad was then finally able to begin his family reunion application and start to get his life back on track.

Can you help us to support more people like Jawad?

Become a regular donor to Action Foundation and you’ll be directly empowering people like Jawad to settle and integrate into our local community. Our Support Workers provide a lifeline to asylum seekers and refugees, offering them the support they need when they are often at their lowest ebb.

Click here to set up your regular donation right now

*We have used a different name to protect his identity