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Urgent Appeal for Hackney Migrant Centre’s Hardship Fund for Destitute Migrants

Hackney Migrant Centre has been running a weekly drop in for migrants for nine years now. In that time, year on year, the situation for migrants in the UK has worsened as a result of changes to welfare and immigration legislation. Theresa May’s determination, first as Home Secretary and then as Prime Minister to create an ‘ever more hostile environment’ for migrants has sadly been a triumphant success.

Cuts to legal aid, prohibitive bills for some migrants needing NHS hospital care, including maternity care, withdrawal of legal aid from most immigration cases, harsher penalties on employers employing undocumented migrants, landlord checks on tenants, the brutal No Recourse to Public Funds condition on people with limited leave to stay in the UK, and fantastical charges for people applying to renew their leave, have pushed many more migrants into destitution.

We have experienced a continuous increase in demand for advice and assistance at our drop-in. We regularly receive over 40 individuals every week, many of them families with children, and we cannot see everyone accessing our service. Last year 833 individuals attended our weekly drop-in, many making several repeat visits.

Almost half were visa overstayers or refused asylum seekers, none of whom can work or claim benefits. Many of them are families living in poor and overcrowded conditions, renting from rogue landlords, or they sofa-surf among friends who themselves have little. Others are families with limited leave but subject to the No Recourse to Public Funds condition. They are not entitled to mainstream benefits, nor are their children eligible for free school meals, and they also often live in precarious circumstances. Nearly 90% of such families are headed by single parents, most of them women. In some cases whole families find themselves street homeless. We also see single men and some women who sleep on buses or in the open.

Where possible our two in-house destitution and welfare advisers try to obtain housing and financial support from social services departments but local authorities often dispute their responsibilities and, until proper support can be arranged, people depend on small handouts wherever they can get them. Meanwhile our volunteers assist them with the practical work of finding immigration solicitors to help undocumented migrants regularise their status and to help to get the No Recourse to Public Funds condition lifted for those with limited leave. We also try to find people places in homeless shelters and hostels, and help them get access to food banks and other sources of free food, as well as applying for individual grants from other charitable organisations.

However, all these forms of help take time to organise and many of our visitors arrive with absolutely no money. In those cases, we give them a one-off payment of £20 help tide them over, hardly a fortune, but the level of poverty and destitution that we meet, means that we often pay in excess of £200 in such hardship payments each week. We have a special hardship fund for this purpose, funded annually from one grant giving body and otherwise dependent on individual donations.

At the moment our hardship fund is completely exhausted and we have started having to make hardship payments from our general income needed to run the drop-in. We are asking for donations to help us replenish our hardship fund. Every penny that you give in response to this appeal will be given to the poorest migrants.

Donate to our hardship fund here

£20 will enable one visitor to receive a one-off payment, but we welcome any donation, however small. You can send a cheque or complete our standing order form (see below) and post to HMC, St Marys New Church Rooms, Spensley Walk, London, N16 9ES.
Please let us know if you would like to gift aid your donation.

  • BUY OUR COOKBOOK! The Eat Hackney Cookbook is a beautiful cookbook, ideal for Christmas presents! It containts 30 great recipes from restaurants, cafés and community projects like the Hackney Migrant Centre and North London Action for the Homeless. By buying the Eat Hackney Cookbook for £5 you are supporting the Hackney Migrant Centre and North London Action for the Homeless. Find out more here. If you are interested in buying one, please email our coordinator here.
  • Make a donation - Hackney Migrant Centre supports some of the most vulnerable migrants living in the UK. If you would like to make a contribution to support our work, to make a one-off donation visit our Virgin JustGiving webpage or to set up a standing order download our form here. If you would like our bank details, please email us.