MTVH provides safe routes out of homelessness for migrants

| 16 June 2020

Summary: To mark Refugee Week, we spoke to Eshan, a former customer at Re-Start Point – our first-of-its-kind service for destitute migrants.

Re-Start Point is an 11-bed hostel providing safe, rent-free accommodation and other support services to destitute migrants in Derby. Last year alone, the service helped 15 people move on to longer term accommodation – including six who moved into MTVH properties in the city. Eshan is one of those people; he shared with us his experiences as an asylum seeker and journey through Re-Start Point.

After having his asylum application refused by the Home Office and becoming street homeless in February 2018, Eshan was referred to Re-Start Point by the Red Cross. Reflecting on his arrival at Re-Start Point, Eshan said; ‘I felt over the moon and I was pinching myself to make sure it was not a dream”.

At Re-Start Point, Eshan was given a weekly allowance for food and essentials, supported to access English language class at Derby College, and registered with local healthcare services; “My life was beginning to change. My days were busy with English classes, cooking, and socialising with other housemates.”

Re-Start Point also supported Eshan to make a fresh asylum claim, which was approved by the Home Office giving him leave to remain and the foundation to build a new life; “At Re-Start Point, I had the time to concentrate on finding new evidence to support my asylum claim and the support to go and see my solicitor.”

Central to the services provided at Re-Start Point is a focus on the well-being of customers. Residents like Eshan are encouraged to volunteer at local organisations, to socialise and build peer support networks. Recognising that claiming asylum can be an exhausting process, team members are always on hand to provide emotional support; “Every time I had a bad day, the staff were there to listen to my worries and support me all the way.”

Once Eshan’s asylum application had been approved, he was able to start planning for the future. He was given practical guidance with applying for Universal Credit, supported to look for employment opportunities, and registered on the social housing allocations list. Colleagues at Re-Start Point also helped him to apply for travel documents to visit family he had been separated from.

Providing customers with a holistic service has central to the service from the beginning. Dominic Briant, Head of Research Contracts and Funding said: “Each element of the services provided at Re-Start Point plays a pivotal role in preventing customers from falling back into destitution. The service has created positive outcomes for customers with the majority moving-on from the hostel with a regular income, social network, and clear hopes for the future. At the Migration Foundation we hope to continue to make positive change; making migration work for both migrants and communities

“The whole point is to resolve a crisis for someone. For many this has meant a new stable life in the UK, working and participating in the community”.

Eshan is now renting his own home and working full-time at a grocery shop. Whilst this was an exciting step, he was worried about how to manage his bills so Re-Start Point provided some advice on money management. Reflecting on his journey, Eshan said; “Re-Start Point saves and changes the lives of many people – I am grateful for the 19 months I spent there.”

Eshan’s story shows how services at Re-Start Point are able to provide safe routes out of homelessness and create sustainable futures for migrants. Akbar Babukarkail, service manager at Re-Start Point, said; “I am proud that our service has been able to help and support some of the most vulnerable members of our society. They come to us as their last hope to find a roof over their heads and the support to focus on a fresh start in their lives.”

Re-Start Point aims to support migrants out of crisis and provide hope for the future. Eshan’s testimony reflects just that; “The project gave me an opportunity to re-build my life”.