At NACCOM, a key way that we work to end destitution is by gathering evidence on the needs of people requiring the services of our membership, due to failures in the immigration system that have left them homeless and destitute.
Such data, alongside the stories of people with lived experience of such injustices, informs our policy and campaign work whilst supporting the development of good practice within the voluntary sector and beyond.
The annual survey is one of the key ways that we capture such evidence and ahead of this year’s launch we wanted to share some examples of its value.
In particular, two key crisis points in the past year have brought the inadequacy of the Hostile Environment into sharp focus. The first was the transition of the AIRE/AASC contracts that left many people in unsafe accommodation or without support. The second was the Coronavirus crisis that shows the dangers of the current system on public health and on individual safety. Throughout both these ‘crisis points’, having quick access to data that paints a picture of the challenges and successes of the whole NACCOM membership has been vital.
With the information that has been shared by our members, we have been able to give evidence at governmental inquiries including the Work and Pensions Select Committee as well as All Party Parliamentary Groups on Universal Credit, Ending Homelessness, and No Recourse to Public Funds. We have also submitted evidence to national inquiries such as the National Audit Office Inquiry into Universal Credit and the inquiry into the AIRE/AASC contracts.
We have contributed to Select Committee inquiries on homelessness and asylum support and are in regular communication with local authorities and government departments about these issues for example through the National Asylum Stakeholder Forums (NASFs).
We also see partnerships within the sector as a vital way to further our aims, and have been able to share data from the survey with other organisations where relevant, with examples including the publication of the joint report with Refugee Action and other partners into Section 4 delays in September 2019, and the British Red Cross Cost Benefit Analysis into extending the move-on period for refugees in February 2020.
Ultimately, evidence from our network has helped get the current suspension of evictions from asylum accommodation and will continue to help us campaign for a total end of evicting people into street homelessness and make the arguments for why everyone must be able to access public funds regardless of their immigration status.
It also helps with capacity building across the network, with learning from last year’s survey informing the content of our first Housing Toolkit (launched October 2019) and enabling discussions with Housing Associations about partnering with members to increase provision, for instance through our joint event with Crisis in February 2020.
All these represent major strides towards our vision to end destitution, and we are so grateful to our members for taking the time to support this work with data gathering in the last year. We hope everyone will feel able to take part in this crucial work in 2020, a year which has been full of such change and uncertainty.