We believe in...
To achieve this we give direct cash payments to migrants who have been left without any access to support because of where they've come from. Direct payments allow people the dignity to choose and live more equally.
The Migrant Destitution Fund shouldn't have to exist, but until everyone in Greater Manchester is able to earn an income or receive state support, we have to.
WHAT IS THE MIGRANT DESTITUTION FUND GM?
The Migrant Destitution Fund supports destitute migrants with "no recourse to public funds" (NRPF). This policy, which is part of the government’s 'hostile environment', leaves people unable to access mainstream benefits and housing assistance. The policy affects people whose asylum claims have been refused and whose support has been stopped, as well as others without leave to remain in the UK, such as people who came on a spousal visa whose relationships have ended. All these people are not entitled to work, forcing them into destitution.
"I was able to call my family. The first time! It made me cry"
Ruvimbo, asylum seeker, destitute for 7 years
Many migrants eventually win the right to remain, to work and to access public funds, but it is a long process and in the meantime it traps people in destitution. Others are granted leave to remain but are still denied access to public funds, leaving them without any safety net. A significant proportion of those accessing the fund over the last year have become destitute when they lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fund aims to restore dignity and empower people forced into these degrading situations by Home Office policy. Migrants experiencing NRPF are some of the most marginalised people in our society. While COVID-19 has exacerbated the challenges they face, these challenges are not going away with the easing of lockdown.
The Fund provides grants of £80 once a month to those made destitute by NRPF. These grants are typically spent on food, winter clothing, phone credit, travel costs (e.g. to appointments), dental treatment. We recognise that £80 does not solve all of the problems that destitute migrants experience. Ultimately, we can’t achieve justice while the NRPF policy continues. But the fund does provide a lifeline when people need it most.
"it meant I could submit my application for appeal just in time. I couldn't have done that without this. [The Fund] stops people having to put themselves in unsafe situations to get money."
WHY DO WE GIVE CASH?
We give people cash payments instead of 'gifts in kind'. This is for two reasons. Firstly, it allows the person to buy what they really need and what meets their requirements. Food bank parcels by contrast often don't meet cultural or religious needs. If an individual and has an emergency or unexpected expense, they have access to cash to to use for this. Or if contacting their family is their most pressing need then they can choose to spend their money on phone credit. Ultimately it is their choice, the same as others have choice in how they live. Secondly, providing someone with cash reduces some of the stigma associated with other handouts. See our stories page to see how our cash grants have helped people.
WHO OVERSEES THE FUND?
Applications are checked for eligibility by an administrator provided by Macc (the independent charity who host the Fund) and shared with a Panel twice a week for approval. The Panel is made up of two people with lived experience of destitution, and two people who work with groups supporting destitute migrants.
Macc is the local community and voluntary support organisation for the city of Manchester. They host and administer the Migrant Destitution Fund as part of their charitable purpose, on behalf of the Migrant Destitution Action Group.
All donations or grant funds made to the Migrant Destitution Fund are held by Macc for the purpose of providing grants to migrants with no recourse who are destitute. Partners will be asked by Macc to complete straightforward checks prior to registering and making their first application.
Everything else to do with the Fund is overseen by members of the Migrant Destitution Action Group. Every member of the Action Group is a volunteer, or giving their time as part of a paid role with a charity of community group. The Action Group began as a part of the Manchester Homeless Partnership in 2017, and maintains ties to the Partnership.
Some of the key activities performed by Action Group members include:
Sitting on the Panel which approves applications
Overseeing awareness and fundraising campaigns
Communicating with referral partners about support, prevention and partnerships
Evaluating, adapting and reviewing how the Fund is working
WHO DO WE SUPPORT?
The fund supports people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) across Greater Manchester.
In 2020 Citizens Advice reported:
Nearly 1.4 million people in the UK have no recourse to public funds (NRPF)
Burden of restrictions falls on Black or Asian people, or people from other minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME)
Number of people seeking advice on no recourse to public funds has doubled during pandemic
True figures of those with NRPF in Greater Manchester are unknown as many go unrecorded. What we do know:
105 individuals with NRPF were recorded as staying in night shelters during the first phase of the GM ‘A Bed Every Night’ initiative between 1 Nov 2018 and 31 March 2019.
18% of rough sleeping in Manchester according to these figures were for people with NRPF, which suggests there could be 20-50 destitute migrants rough sleeping every night.
Over 200 people are on the waiting list for Manchester based charity Boaz Trust's accommodation for those with NRPF.
We support hundreds of people across Greater Manchester. For the period between April 2020 until Jan 2021 when we last reviewed statistics:
Total grants made
This podcast was created with The Elephant Trail Project. Listen to hear more about the people we support, their ambitions to work, their struggles with the impact of NRPF on their mental health, and the need to make the Migrant Destitution Fund available to more people.