Refugee week 20-26 June - focus on Open Door North East

Thursday, 23 June 2016 - 4:10pm

To mark Refugee Week Patrick Duce demonstrates how providing a range of accommodation based services for refugees and asylum seekers can help support those with no recourse to public funds to move away from destitution. 

Photograph: Nicholas Oh Photography 2014

Middlesbrough has currently the highest dispersal rate of asylum seekers in the UK, with 1 in 186 of the local population being a recent arrival from outside Europe. The issue made national news in January this year after the local asylum accommodation provider was found to be painting all asylum seeker housing front doors bright red.

Open Door North East is a Middlesbrough faith based organisation that has been serving refugees, asylum seekers and destitute migrants since 2001. Originally birthed out of a local church’s response to the growing number of destitute refugees and migrants with no recourse to public funds in Teeside, their mission is to “Relieve destitution and poverty; whilst empowering and providing opportunity for those seeking sanctuary”.

Open Door work with local social investors and landlords and have built up a portfolio of 24 houses that house 58 asylum seekers and 17 destitute migrants with no recourse to public funds. Through renting and sub-letting these properties to meet small-let HMO standards, housing benefit revenue cross subsidises bed spaces for those with no recourse to public funds.

They are far more than just property development however, ensuring that migrants with no recourse to public funds have access to critical immigration advice to support access to regularisation. They also provide holistic support in the form of food parcels, subsidized English  lessons, women’s groups and clothing from partnership organisations in Teeside. 

As a model of accommodation for migrants with no recourse to public funds, this service relies heavily on several factors. Firstly, the strong and engaged volunteer base from the local faith based community. Secondly, the cost and availability of cheap housing stock in the Teeside area coupled with the high level of under 35 year old asylum seekers needing shared accommodation. This has enabled a steady income to cross subsidise innovative work providing housing for those with NRPF. It highlights the different way that community groups across England are responding to the needs of local destitute migrants.

Open Door North East is one of the founding members of the No Accommodation Network (NACCOM), a nationwide network of services offering accommodation to refused asylum seekers. NACCOM is also a member of the Strategic Alliance on Migrant Destitution, a nationwide alliance of homeless, refugee and migrant organisations committed to investigating and sharing practical solutions to destitution for migrants from outside of the European Economic Area.

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Patrick Duce

Innovation and good practice project manager

Patrick is an Innovation and Good Practice Project Manager, working on a range of innovation projects across the homelessness sector. Previously coordinated the Strategic Alliance on Migrant Destitution (SAMD) project on behalf of Homeless Link.

Telephone: 0207 840 4468
Twitter: @PatrickDuce