Research study with refused asylum seekers living in the UK

Destitute asylum seekers surviving in the UK have few rights: with no legal right to work, they are often forced into finding other less legitimate ways of surviving. Relatively little is known about how the many thousands of people in the UK with no access to legitimate means of securing a livelihood actually survive. People fundamentally want to remain hidden, and thus they can be hard to reach and support.

Oxfam GB commissioned Options and the Centre for Migration Policy Research (based at Swansea University) to conduct a PEER study to understand more about how failed asylum seekers were surviving, what resources they could use, so that those who wanted to support them, knew best how to do so.

The PEER study group worked with volunteers from the local refugee and asylum seeker community – at various stages of the asylum process themselves – to interview friends who they trusted and to talk about their experiences as failed asylum seekers. The study highlighted the extreme, harmful and degrading strategies that asylum seekers have to use to survive. Findings were published by Oxfam in February 2011 and were used to influence changes to government policy that could help prevent destitution among refused asylum seekers.

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