The types of issues that our service users come to us with vary enormously. Common problems include poor or inadequate asylum housing; homelessness and destitution; limited access to good quality legal representation; isolation; racial harassment; limited access to education and other meaningful activities; difficulties navigating the benefits system and being understood by other service providers. Solace helps to alleviate some of these difficulties by working closely with a large number of agencies.
In working with asylum seekers and refugees we need to react constantly to changes to asylum policies and cuts in funding.
When someone is detained, it means a considerable amount of time working with solicitors or, in many cases, trying to persuade a solicitor to represent one of our service users; contacting MPs and other relevant support agencies for support. Thanks to close links with specialist asylum solicitors and organisations, such as Medical Justice and the National Coalition for Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC), we have successfully helped prevent the deportation of several of our service users.
Even when someone is granted permission to live and work in the UK, there are many hurdles to overcome moving from an asylum support system to mainstream housing and benefits.
Education and particularly English language classes are very important to asylum seekers and refugees. These classes are a lifeline to asylum seekers who would otherwise lead very isolated, empty lives, which compound any underlying mental health problems. For this reason, we are concerned that government plans to cut funding for English language classes for asylum seekers will have a devastating impact on the mental health of our service users.
Asylum seekers and refugees frequently face hostilities. They are often not listened to or taken seriously. Many are struggling to cope with language and cultural barriers, loss, trauma and uncertainty over their futures. All this can seriously erode confidence and self esteem, compound existing mental health difficulties or even be the cause of mental health problems that did not exist before coming to the UK. Solace advocates help to counter some of this by listening to their concerns and acting on their behalf to help secure services, rights and entitlements.
Advocacy support at Solace is only available to Solace clients on Friday’s by appointment only.