Mrs W's story

Mrs W, a 35yr old, Burundian lady was 7 months pregnant when presented to the Crisis team needing accommodation. She had been living with the father of her unborn child who was working to support her.

However her 9yr old boy and 15yr old girl had travelled from Burundi to be with their mother and had claimed asylum in their own right. The partner wanted nothing to do with these children and left their property withdrawing his support. Mum was forced to take her family to a friend’s house and sought help from the Refugee Centre.

She was seen to be particularly vulnerable because she had no accommodation or support, was pregnant and had two other children to care for and was referred to RASP. An initial assessment was made to determine full details of her case then an application was made to the Home Office for accommodation and support, however these take time to be processed.

We made an application for the family to be assessed for monetary support from Social services under section 17 of the Children Act, and applications for support from two other funds. Two weeks later Mum presented with her children and suitcases as her friend had said she could no longer stay with her. We sent her to present at Social Services however she was turned away and she returned to CRC.

The caseworker made numerous phone calls to Social Services and negotiated for support on her behalf and eventually they agreed to make an assessment of the family. The result was Social Services placed her and her children in a local hotel overnight. While negotiating with Social Services we entered negotiations with the children’s Home Office caseworker as it was felt that the Home Office should take responsibility as the children had claimed asylum in their own right. Eventually we managed to get the family accepted for Home Office emergency accommodation on submission of an application the next day.

However, the family could not leave the hotel the next morning as hotel staff had confiscated their identity papers in lieu of the bill being paid. We therefore had to enter negotiations with the hotel manager to release their papers and allow them to check out. Eventually they were able to leave and we were able to make an application for emergency accommodation. They were taken to this accommodation at 7.00pm that evening, where they stayed for approximately two weeks. The family has now been housed and is now receiving the support to which they are entitled.