September 17, 2021

Dignity and Hope for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

The Destitution Project (DP) is a registered charity that provides a safe environment in Bolton, UK, where asylum seekers and refugees can find friendship, food, and practical help. Plater Trust funding has provided the salary for the DP’s caseworker. She provides support to asylum seekers, including refused asylum seekers and those with No Recourse to Public Funds, and signposts Refugees to other specialist organisations and service providers in Bolton and Greater Manchester. Between April 2021 to October 2021, she held an extraordinary 544 casework sessions with individuals, and was able to provide £2080 worth of food vouchers and 391 food parcels to vulnerable people.    

One particular case study, that of Kovan, stands out for the CPT, as it shows the degree to which the services at DP, working in collaboration with other local partners, helped resolve some of the most challenging and long-term injustices that some of the asylum seekers coming to the UK face.  

Kovan is now 25 years old. He was trafficked from Syria in 2011 at the start of the conflict. He was just 15 years old. A family member paid for the journey considering that to be the safer option than staying in his homeland.  He was placed in foster care in Cardiff but neither he, nor his foster family, were advised how he could apply for leave to remain. This was a serious omission. At the time, Kovan was a minor, so the process would have been relatively straightforward for him to gain leave to remain. But the failure to act then had major consequences for the next 10 years of his life. At the age of 18, gaining adult status, the limited protections he had were largely lost and then began 7 years of asylum claims and refusals with intermittent destitution and homelessness, mental health problems and self-harming, until, on the recommendation of a friend, he came to Bolton and the Destitution Project in December 2020.

Kovan’s case was complex, required many hours of casework time to progress it, as well as intense advocacy with the Home Office. The Home Office refused him accommodation and his entitlement to financial support so had to depend very heavily on the DP to survive. Finally, in January 2022 as an outcome of DPs advocacy, he has finally been given leave to remain. As Kovan says “I was in a very bad situation and if it wasn’t for their help I could have died in the street, I swear to God. I had five different solicitors, no one helped me with legal aid. The only place that helped me to get leave to remain is them (the Destitution project).”

Now he is looking forward to going to college and beginning to build a life for himself in the UK.

Listen here to hear Kovan tell his own story and the 'life-saving' support offered by DP caseworker funded by the CPT.