It’s six years since Rekar first came to the UK after fleeing Iraq, yet his asylum claim is still undecided.

And whilst he is praying that his refugee status will be granted soon, he also fears that this positive decision could see him flung back onto the streets.

Rekar is a 28-year-old student of English, currently living in limbo in a Newcastle hotel, awaiting the outcome of his asylum application. He is not allowed to work but every week he comes to volunteer at Action Foundation’s InterAction Drop-in and Action Language classes where he helps other people with advice or by interpreting for Kurdish Sorani and Persian speakers.

Rekar was first referred to Action Foundation as a destitute asylum seeker and we accommodated him in one of our Action Foundation houses. But following a renewed asylum claim, he found asylum accommodation in the hotel.

As a Drop-in volunteer he has seen so many people reporting homeless after gaining refugee status that, although he is looking forward to being granted leave to remain, he is steeling himself for the inevitable outcome of that.

“Whether I get a positive or negative decision on my asylum case, I have to be ready, so I’ve bought a tent and a sleeping bag just in case. I’ve been homeless before and I wasn’t prepared, this time it will be different. I saw a homeless guy under a bridge this morning and gave him some change, I thought, this could be me soon.”

Like many asylum seekers, Rekar has no security. Just last week, the Home Office accommodation contractors, Mears, told him he must move from Tyneside down to Teesside where he has no connections. After more than three years in Newcastle, he has made friends and built up a support network, including here at Action Foundation.

Rekar also has a number of medical conditions which require him to see specialists in Newcastle, conditions he finds are exacerbated by stress. Understandably, all this has taken a toll on his mental health.

This winter Action Foundation has seen a shocking increase in homelessness referrals as a result of Home Office efforts to clear the asylum backlog by the end of December.

In September/November 2022 the charity’s Lettings project, which provides accommodation for newly recognised refugees, received just three referrals. During the same two-month period this year, it received 109.

Vicky Miller, Head of Business Development and Communications with Action Foundation, said:

“We are in a perfect storm of lack of housing, increased homelessness and refugees being given less than two weeks to find somewhere to live once they have been evicted from asylum accommodation.”

This is why we have centred our winter campaign on homelessness. If you’d like to give to our Crowdfunder Raise the Roof for Refugees, every donation is doubled by the Aviva Community Fund. Please follow this link to donate