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AUTHORS:<br />



Contents<br />

Forewords 2<br />

Endorsements 8<br />

Executive Summary 12<br />

1) Introduction 17<br />

2) Who are asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants? 21<br />

3) The process of applying for asylum 29<br />

4) The challenges faced upon arrival in the UK 31<br />

5) The role of faith groups 37<br />

Why should faith groups respond? 37<br />

How should faith groups respond? 38<br />

6) Introduction to the evaluation 41<br />

Refugee and asylum seeker context in <strong>Southampton</strong> 42<br />

7) What response has there been in <strong>Southampton</strong>? 45<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> 45<br />

Advice Sessions 46<br />

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) 46<br />

This document can be downloaded for free from:<br />

www.profkeith.com<br />

8) The impact 57<br />

Immediate Support: Practical provision that impacts positively on health<br />

and wellbeing 57<br />

Reducing Social Isolation 58<br />

Advocacy and Signposting 59<br />

9) Conclusions 63<br />

10) Recommendations 67<br />

Works Cited 71<br />

Appendix A – Data Gathering 75<br />

Appendix B – Additional quotes from interviews 77<br />




Foreword<br />

<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> exists to represent the churches of <strong>Southampton</strong> and all they do to support,<br />

enrich and care for the local community of all faiths and none. I am privileged to be the independent<br />

Chair of <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> helping to make known all the amazing projects and acts of<br />

kindness that churches and church members are involved in within the city to support and protect<br />

some of the most vulnerable members of our society.<br />

Professor Keith Brown<br />

Independent Chair, <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

Following the publication of the research report,<br />

Food Poverty and Food Distribution: The<br />

role that Faith-based groups have in providing<br />

and caring for their communities, we wanted<br />

to highlight the impact that faith-based communities<br />

have on the integration of refugees<br />

into society. We therefore decided to commission<br />

an impact evaluation of this area and this<br />

report is the conclusion of a 9 month research<br />

project which I was delighted to lead.<br />

Once again we commissioned Jean Hirst to<br />

undertake the data collection and to conduct<br />

interviews with organisations and individuals<br />

working in this area, and with individuals<br />

with personal experience of being a refugee.<br />

Through this rich depth of information and<br />

case study material we are able to not only<br />

demonstrate how churches in <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

make a real and significant difference to<br />

the lives of refugees, but also to explain the<br />

journey and story of what it’s like to be a refugee.<br />

In particular we wanted to demystify the<br />

complexity and the often ill-informed media<br />

reports regarding the scale and impact of asylum<br />

seekers in the UK.<br />

We also wanted to focus on the practical help<br />

that faith-based communities, and in particular<br />

churches, provide in supporting these<br />

people both in terms of immediate practical<br />

needs, and also and perhaps of more importance,<br />

helping them to integrate into society.<br />

We want to tell this story both to celebrate all<br />

that the churches have done in <strong>Southampton</strong>,<br />

but also to inspire other churches to do more<br />

to welcome the ‘stranger’ into their communities,<br />

as an expression of their faith in action.<br />

Jean and I could not have written this report<br />

without a great deal of help from others. In<br />

particular we want to express our sincere<br />

thanks to those who were willing to be interviewed<br />

and provided insight and comment on<br />

our work. In addition we express our grateful<br />

thanks to Paul Woodman, Pete White and Jill<br />

Brown who have helped us edit this work and<br />

have provided content and insight. Without<br />

this wider team this report would simply not<br />

have been possible.<br />

Finally, if you look at the details of migrants arriving<br />

in <strong>Southampton</strong> since 2001 (from a presentation<br />

by Dr Rachael Coker from South East<br />

Strategic Partnership for Migration), 44,050<br />

were from the EU with the legal right to live<br />

and work here, 1,067 were Hong Kong British<br />

Nationals, 395 were Ukrainians under the<br />

Homes for Ukraine scheme, 113 came via the<br />

Afghan resettlement scheme and there were<br />

346 others. These “others” are a very small<br />

percentage of the total number of people entering<br />

the UK via immigration routes. These<br />

people as we demonstrate are feeling oppression<br />

and injustice, seeking to build new<br />

lives away from conflict or persecution, and to<br />

this end I want to thank very sincerely all the<br />

churches and Christians in <strong>Southampton</strong> who<br />

have stood up to offer real and significant assistance<br />

and help to these vulnerable human<br />

beings who have moved into our community.<br />

You are an inspiration to us all in the way you<br />

have cared for these people - thank you.<br />

Professor Keith Brown<br />

Independent Chair, <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

www.profkeith.com<br />



Foreword<br />

Since 2012, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society has drawn parliamentarians<br />

together to support the contributions of faith groups and faith-based organisations to their communities.<br />

We aim to draw attention to their achievements and - where we can - to help remove<br />

the hurdles which sometimes unnecessarily hold them back.<br />

The pandemic was the catalyst for a dramatic<br />

surge, right across the country, of co-operation<br />

between faith groups and local Councils.<br />

In lockdowns, it turned out that faith groups<br />

uniquely had the motivation and the capacity<br />

to deliver help at scale to people facing hardship.<br />

They also had the contacts with people<br />

needing help, and were trusted.<br />

<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> has been a very good example<br />

of this kind of partnership, with an excellent<br />

working relationship between <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

City Council and the churches and<br />

other faith groups. One uncertainty about<br />

the partnerships established during the Covid<br />

lockdowns was whether - as we hoped - they<br />

would endure after the pandemic. <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

continues to thrive, helping residents<br />

deal with the cost of living crisis.<br />

I hope as well that the kind of initiative described<br />

here - marked by kindness and compassion<br />

rather than officiousness, and offering<br />

hope for the future - will be increasingly prominent<br />

in our national life, and, in due course,<br />

help to renew our politics and our democracy.<br />

Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Timms MP<br />

This impressive report profiles work in <strong>Southampton</strong>,<br />

which started in 2001, to support new<br />

migrants to the city. It explains that the beneficiaries<br />

- offered minimal support elsewhere<br />

- have often “endured unimaginable horrors”,<br />

and need “a compassionate and supportive<br />

environment for processing and healing from<br />

their experiences”. They have found that in<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong>’s churches.<br />

I commend this work in <strong>Southampton</strong>, and the<br />

efforts of everyone involved. Like the report’s<br />

authors, I hope this example will inspire and<br />

encourage others to consider how they might<br />

provide support in their own communities.<br />

More of those newly arrived in the country,<br />

disorientated and confronted by seemingly insurmountable<br />

challenges, will then be able to<br />

say, like one of those quoted here, “I realised<br />

I’m settled … and want to stay”.<br />

Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Timms MP<br />

Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society<br />



Foreword<br />

I am very pleased to commend this report<br />

which provides powerful evidence of the work<br />

of churches in <strong>Southampton</strong> to welcome and<br />

support vulnerable people who arrive in our<br />

city.<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> has a long history of migration<br />

and our population and culture have constantly<br />

evolved as diverse people groups have arrived<br />

and settled. Romans, Saxons, Vikings,<br />

Normans, those escaping persecution or war,<br />

those seeking a better life - all these arrivals<br />

have made the city what it is today, but they<br />

may also present us with financial and social<br />

challenges.<br />

What this report demonstrates is that whilst<br />

the City Council has an important part to play<br />

in welcoming and supporting asylum seekers,<br />

faith-based communities can provide an enormous<br />

amount of complementary services and<br />

support that make a huge difference to people<br />

in need, not only of practical help, but also human<br />

connection and a sense of belonging.<br />

I am grateful to <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> for representing<br />

the churches and for their long-term<br />

commitment to welcoming and supporting vulnerable<br />

new arrivals to our city which is evidenced<br />

in detail in this report. Indeed, without<br />

the churches’ commitment to supporting these<br />

asylum seekers our community would be much<br />

more impoverished.<br />

Finally, I wish to express my sincere thanks<br />

to Professor Keith Brown, Jean Hirst and the<br />

members of the research team who have diligently<br />

undertaken this research to bring this<br />

work to our attention in such a powerful way.<br />

Cllr Lorna Fielker<br />

Cllr Lorna Fielker<br />

Leader of <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> is proud to be a City of Sanctuary<br />

and the churches in the city have helped to<br />

make sanctuary a living reality for thousands<br />

of lonely and needy asylum seekers. Working<br />

in partnership with statutory services the<br />

churches in <strong>Southampton</strong> have contributed a<br />

huge amount to the social integration of asylum<br />

seekers within the city.<br />



Endorsement<br />

I welcome this detailed account and evaluation<br />

of the work undertaken by the Faith Organisations<br />

in <strong>Southampton</strong> as an honest and truthful<br />

picture of the reality faced by increasing numbers<br />

of people seeking escape from oppression.<br />

Designated a dispersal city for Home Office<br />

Assisted Asylum Seekers since 2001 and recognised<br />

as a City of Sanctuary since 2017,<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong>’s Faith Community has worked<br />

with the Local Authority and other organisations<br />

to provide immediate practical support<br />

and enable longer term integration for those<br />

working through the trauma of being forced to<br />

leave their homes and seek a new life in a totally<br />

different country and society.<br />

Jean Hirst and Keith Brown have provided an<br />

honest, factual and inspirational report that is<br />

not confrontational or ‘anti – government’ but<br />

rather offers recommendations based on success<br />

stories that have emerged through years<br />

of service to the community in <strong>Southampton</strong>.<br />

This report offers us all a great deal to reflect<br />

on and to which we should be prayerfully responding.<br />

Bishop Geoff<br />

This report gives an in-depth analysis grounded<br />

in theology and especially Christian understanding.<br />

As St Mother Teresa of Calcutta<br />

once wrote:<br />

Geoff Annas<br />

Acting Bishop of <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

‘Christ Jesus,<br />

In Holy Communion I find you under the forms<br />

of bread and wine. In my everyday life I find<br />

you in all the people I meet, especially when<br />

they need help. For you said, anything you do<br />

for one of my sisters or brothers you do for me’<br />



Endorsement<br />

“It feels like home.” These were the heart-warming words I heard from a young mum from Hong<br />

Kong, as we stood together in a park at a welcome festival put on by Christians in 2020. The United<br />

Kingdom had seen a spike in race-based hate crime towards people assumed to be Chinese,<br />

but in the park that day, new arrivals from Hong Kong were met by a wall of beautiful welcome<br />

messages written by members of a local church.<br />

For that young mum, the welcome festival offered<br />

not only an oasis of hope and welcome,<br />

but a poignant sense of connection with home.<br />

For me, that festival marked the beginning of<br />

an amazing three years where churches and<br />

Christians households put themselves at the<br />

forefront of offering welcome and support to<br />

those arriving in the UK from Hong Kong, Afghanistan<br />

and Ukraine.<br />

This powerful report offers us a deep dive into<br />

the huge positive impact that faith groups are<br />

having in <strong>Southampton</strong> by helping to meet<br />

both practical and pastoral needs of refugees<br />

and asylum seekers. It shows us what faith in<br />

practice looks like; the practical outworking of<br />

Jesus’ call to love God and love neighbour, a<br />

generous welcome that is offered freely without<br />

strings or compulsion, and making a huge<br />

difference in people’s lives.<br />

I have seen this replicated hundreds of times<br />

across the country. This report offers a snapshot<br />

of how faith groups and civil society are<br />

working in close partnership with local and<br />

national government all over the UK. This is a<br />

winning combination that can ensure everyone<br />

gets the welcome and support they need.<br />

This report provides empirical evidence that<br />

should ensure this approach has a long and<br />

positive future, and should be read widely.<br />

Dr Krish Kandiah OBE<br />

Director, Sanctuary Foundation<br />

Dr Krish Kandiah OBE<br />

Director, Sanctuary Foundation<br />



Executive Summary<br />

This impact evaluation demonstrates the crucial<br />

and continued role of faith-based organisations,<br />

particularly local churches, in supporting<br />

refugees, asylum seekers and migrants arriving<br />

in local communities. By demonstrating the<br />

impact of the services provided by some of<br />

the organisations represented by <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>,<br />

this evaluation evidences that it is<br />

possible to make a great difference against a<br />

landscape of minimal other support and seeks<br />

to encourage other Christian communities in<br />

how they can practically support those having<br />

to start a new life in their area. Overall, the<br />

report argues that faith-based organisations<br />

play a vital role in providing immediate practical<br />

provision as well as longer-term impact<br />

through opening up opportunities for community<br />

relationship building, access to education,<br />

housing, health and employment, which have a<br />

longer-term impact on refugee integration.<br />

With the UK witnessing an influx of asylum applications<br />

(173,000 new asylum and humanitarian<br />

route applications between July 2022<br />

and June 2023)​(Office for National Statistics,<br />

2023)​ there is a continued need for support<br />

to successfully integrate people into communities.<br />

The evaluation draws attention to the<br />

distinct differences between refugees and<br />

asylum seekers and how these differences impact<br />

the levels of support needed upon arrival<br />

in the UK and on the integration journey.<br />

The evaluation suggests that support and aid<br />

is needed in two categories. The pressing immediate<br />

practical support needed for immediate<br />

housing, food, legal support with asylum<br />

claims; and the medium to longer term integration<br />

support such as access to employment,<br />

community connection, access to education<br />

etc. Asylum seekers are reliant upon government<br />

support to initially meet their immediate<br />

needs upon arrival in the UK, however the<br />

support offered is not comprehensive enough;<br />

leaving them to live in conditions that have an<br />

impact upon their physical and mental health.<br />

The report outlines several challenges faced<br />

by refugees and asylum seekers, including the<br />

prolonged waiting period for asylum decisions,<br />

the impact of previous trauma, language barriers,<br />

housing issues, digital exclusion and the<br />

inability to work during the asylum application<br />

process. It also highlights the difficulties in<br />

navigating complex legal processes, the lack<br />

of stable and good quality living conditions,<br />

and the disruption caused by the dispersal<br />

process.<br />

Additionally, the report emphasises the vulnerability<br />

and emotional toll experienced by<br />

refugees as they recount traumatic experiences<br />

during the asylum application process.<br />

Overall, the challenges faced by refugees and<br />

asylum seekers encompass physical, mental<br />

and emotional aspects, as well as difficulties in<br />

integrating into a new society and establishing<br />

a sense of stability and community. They have<br />

been categorised as:<br />

• The temporal<br />

• The technical<br />

• The trauma<br />

• Housing and location<br />

• Employment<br />

• Language barriers<br />

• Access to legal and other advice<br />

Over a period of 6 months and using a combination<br />

of research papers, desktop data and<br />

over 30 interviews, the findings of this evaluation<br />

highlight the impact that faith-based<br />

organisations have had in <strong>Southampton</strong> specifically.<br />

We use a mixed methods approach<br />

to emphasise the scale of the interventions<br />

provided and the depth of impact through listening<br />

first hand to learners, clients and community<br />

partners. While Christian organisations<br />

are not the only ones to provide support in this<br />

space, the outcomes of the interviews (and<br />

the commission of the evaluation itself) highlight<br />

the leading presence that they have in<br />

providing support in the third sector.<br />

Christian-based organisation, <strong>CLEAR</strong> has provided<br />

support to refugees and asylum seekers<br />

in <strong>Southampton</strong> for 23 years. Its key outputs<br />

are listed below:<br />

• £4.23 million raised since 2001 for<br />

the purpose of supporting refugees<br />

• 1,038 is the average number of<br />

people helped each year since<br />

2001<br />

• 40,000 advice sessions to 9,439<br />

clients over the last 20 years<br />

• Over 192,000 individual language<br />

classes offered in the last<br />

20 years (given that each ESOL<br />

course runs for 32 weeks)<br />

The impact of Christians in <strong>Southampton</strong>, particularly<br />

through faith-based organisations<br />

and local churches, has been substantial.<br />

They have provided life-changing support to<br />

refugees and asylum seekers, including mentoring,<br />

employment advice, English language<br />

support, housing, food, welcome programmes,<br />

legal casework advice sessions and advocacy.<br />

These interventions have contributed to<br />

the physical and mental wellbeing of refugees,<br />

enabling them to recover from trauma and see<br />

the possibility of integrating into UK society.<br />

There are three key impacts arising from the<br />

interviews which are as follows:<br />

1. Immediate support:<br />

Practical provision that<br />

impacts positively on<br />

health and wellbeing<br />

Through interviews, it became evident that essential<br />

provisions such as food, clothing, furniture<br />

and even housing significantly alleviated<br />

the hardships faced by these individuals. Particularly<br />

during the initial accommodation period,<br />

receiving food aid was crucial in addressing<br />

hunger and ensuring physical wellbeing.<br />

When government support was not sufficient<br />

in ensuring sufficient resources for food and<br />

preparation for asylum claims, and the housing<br />

provided was substandard, interventions and<br />

provisions from local faith-based communities<br />

played an invaluable role in sustaining these<br />

individuals. Without such support, many interviewees<br />

expressed uncertainty about survival<br />

and providing for their families, hindering their<br />

ability to engage in activities essential for integration<br />

and progression.<br />

Physical attendance at English language classes,<br />

GPs, case worker meetings and advice<br />

sessions were facilitated by practical assistance,<br />

enabling individuals to pursue opportunities<br />

for a new life in <strong>Southampton</strong>. The acts<br />

of support themselves from members of the<br />

community fostered a sense of welcome and<br />

belonging, positively impacting mental health<br />

and further encouraging participation in communal<br />

endeavours.<br />

The provision of practical support not only<br />

addressed immediate physical needs but also<br />

facilitated integration, mental wellbeing and<br />

community engagement among refugees,<br />

asylum seekers and vulnerable individuals, ultimately<br />

contributing to their overall sense of<br />

personal security.<br />



2. Reducing social isolation<br />

Secondly, through initiatives like English language<br />

cafes, welcome events and church services,<br />

individuals find opportunities to connect<br />

with others and build relationships. Many interviewees<br />

highlighted initial feelings of isolation<br />

and anxiety, which were alleviated by participating<br />

in community gatherings.<br />

Government funding primarily focuses on<br />

practical support such as housing and finance,<br />

leaving a gap in supporting overall wellbeing.<br />

Community events serve as more than just<br />

entertainment, providing platforms for sharing<br />

experiences, healing and social integration.<br />

Participants find solace in connecting with<br />

others who understand their journeys, leading<br />

to newfound confidence and engagement in<br />

community life.<br />

The regularity of events provides a sense of<br />

rhythm and hope amidst uncertainty, boosting<br />

confidence and fostering relationships. Community<br />

spaces not only unite individuals with<br />

shared experiences, but also contribute to the<br />

growth and unity of the wider community. By<br />

exchanging stories and cultures, these activities<br />

promote empathy and understanding<br />

within society.<br />

Without these spaces, individuals would remain<br />

isolated, hindering their integration into<br />

society. Local authorities lack the capacity to<br />

lead or support such initiatives, focusing primarily<br />

on practical assistance. Therefore, the<br />

involvement of Christian organisations and local<br />

communities is essential in creating safe,<br />

supportive environments and facilitating relationships<br />

that bridge the gap between vulnerable<br />

individuals and society at large.<br />

3. Advocacy<br />

and signposting<br />

Interviews from our community partners, including<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Council, demonstrate<br />

how the church has emerged as a<br />

powerful advocate, amplifying the voices of<br />

vulnerable groups and shedding light on their<br />

experiences and hardships. By representing<br />

these voices, they have raised awareness<br />

about pressing issues such as living conditions<br />

and housing requirements, fostering empathy<br />

and understanding within broader society.<br />

The depth of involvement exhibited by church<br />

communities sets them apart and acts as a<br />

powerful voice that can be trusted, as they<br />

are deeply invested in the lives of those they<br />

serve, offering sustained support and advocacy.<br />

Their engagement allows them to bear<br />

witness to the realities faced by refugees and<br />

asylum seekers, informing their advocacy efforts<br />

and ensuring tangible changes in policies<br />

and practices to address systemic challenges<br />

that are beyond even the control of local government<br />

who are themselves limited in how<br />

they can assist.<br />

The relationships between local government<br />

and other service providers have not only<br />

transformed lives, but have also strengthened<br />

communities by ensuring that the voices of<br />

the most vulnerable are heard and acted upon.<br />

This evaluation demonstrates how faith-based<br />

groups and local authorities can work effectively<br />

together in meeting the needs of their<br />

communities.<br />

Recommendations<br />

The report provides practical recommendations for individuals, churches and faith-based organisations<br />

to further support refugee integration. Whether you are able to volunteer to assist with<br />

a 32 week ESOL language class, or you are a church leader wanting to reach out to your local<br />

community, or you want to learn how you can make a difference to the lives of asylum seekers,<br />

these recommendations have come from the success stories of the example found through years<br />

of service in the community in <strong>Southampton</strong>.<br />

• Establish English language cafes<br />

to create safe spaces to ask questions,<br />

share experiences and build<br />

friendships while learning English.<br />

• Facilitate opportunities for building<br />

bridges between host communities<br />

and new arrivals to enable<br />

long-lasting connections which<br />

combat isolation and lead to<br />

greater participation in the community.<br />

• Provide essential practical support<br />

during critical stages (awaiting<br />

a decision) to have a transformative<br />

impact on the physical<br />

and mental wellbeing of asylum<br />

seekers as they undergo the asylum<br />

application process<br />

• Provide training and support to<br />

leaders and volunteer teams to<br />

ensure that there is greater availability<br />

of credible support that is<br />

sustainable.<br />

• Ensure your church meetings are<br />

accessible, welcoming and appropriate<br />

for people from all cultures<br />

and backgrounds, not just those<br />

you are most familiar with.<br />

• Train and empower church members<br />

to welcome, engage with and<br />

support those from different cultures<br />

and backgrounds.<br />



1) Introduction<br />

Increasing numbers of people fleeing oppression,<br />

war and the threat on their lives are coming<br />

to the UK in the hope of safety and support.<br />

Between October 2022 and September<br />

2023 there were 75,340 new asylum applications<br />

(relating to 93,296 people) in the UK, and<br />

of these the most common nationalities were<br />

Afghan, Iranian, Albanian and Indian. Only 37%<br />

of asylum seekers arrived by small boat. Many<br />

others came to the UK via other means (e.g.<br />

plane) or were in the UK already and claimed<br />

asylum whilst here and 112,431 offers of a<br />

safe and legal route were made to come and<br />

remain in the UK.<br />

At the end of September 2023, there were<br />

125,173 applications waiting for an initial decision<br />

relating to 165,411 people, which was a<br />

7% fall since June 2023. Only 23 asylum seekers<br />

were moved from the UK back to countries<br />

they had travelled through.<br />

Between October 2022 and September 2023,<br />

41,858 asylum applications were decided<br />

which is 2.5 times as many as the previous<br />

year. 75% of initial decisions were positive - the<br />

highest rate since 1990 (Home Office, 2023).<br />

At the end of September 2023, 123,758 people<br />

were on asylum support - about 56,000 in hotels,<br />

63,000 in other asylum accommodation<br />

and 4,750 on subsistence only.<br />

Many people and families that arrived during<br />

a period of rapidly changing legislation face<br />

significant uncertainty as to their future and<br />

the likelihood of homelessness, destitution,<br />

deportation, exploitation, and deteriorating<br />

mental health as they undergo the journey of<br />

applying for asylum and integrating into life in<br />

the UK<br />

Following changes in the law, people seeking<br />

asylum in the UK now fall into four categories<br />

1. Legacy cases – applications prior to 28th<br />

June 2022. Additional resources at the Home<br />

Office, the use of questionnaires and the withdrawal<br />

of applications led to a reduction in the<br />

number of outstanding cases. Many of those<br />

whose cases were withdrawn (around 35,000)<br />

remain in the UK, and those granted refugee<br />

status only have 28 days to find alternative accommodation.<br />

2. Arrivals since 28th June 2022 and under<br />

the Nationality and Borders Act 2022. The application<br />

backlog was 38,529 at the end of December<br />

2023.<br />

<strong>Impact</strong> of Legislation<br />

Number of people<br />

Figure 1<br />



3. Arrivals between 7th March 2023 and 20th<br />

July 2023 under the Illegal Migration Bill. As of<br />

31st December 2023, this was 22,448 people<br />

(including around 500 children). No guidance<br />

has been published on their status.<br />

4. Arrivals since 21st July 2023 under the<br />

Illegal Migration Act. As of 28th December<br />

2023, this was 33,085 people, and growing.<br />

Over 18,000 arrived via the Channel during<br />

this period. The criteria for removal have been<br />

identified as; entering UK without permission,<br />

having travelled through a third country where<br />

they weren’t at risk, not having leave to enter<br />

or remain. No work is currently being done on<br />

this backlog and the legal framework is not in<br />

force. The Rwanda scheme is currently going<br />

through Parliament and if passed will only offer<br />

limited spaces.<br />

The total backlog as of 28th December 2023<br />

was 98,599 as shown in Figure 1.<br />

The system that is the gateway to starting a<br />

new life is also the limitation, often for months<br />

after a positive decision is made. While they<br />

wait for a decision, asylum seekers must navigate<br />

a complex process in a foreign language,<br />

are not allowed to work and are entitled to receive<br />

financial support of £49.18 per week if in<br />

dispersal accommodation or £8.86 per week<br />

for those in hotel accommodation. .<br />

Furthermore, the government offers to place<br />

asylum seekers who don’t have family or connections<br />

willing to house them, in both initial<br />

and dispersal accommodation ; however<br />

these provisions are often inadequate and<br />

unsafe, abandoning asylum seekers to poor<br />

living environments with overcrowding, lack<br />

of essential services such as clean water and<br />

heating and at risk of digital exclusion through<br />

lack of internet access, creating barriers to<br />

healthcare access and social connection.<br />

The length of time that refugees are made to<br />

wait is of particular concern. According to the<br />

Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and<br />

Immigration, 2021, refugees had to wait on<br />

average 449 days in 2020 before receiving a<br />

decision from the Home Office. The impact of<br />

these circumstances on the physical and mental<br />

health of individuals, and their ability to integrate<br />

within society cannot be ignored.<br />

Mobilised by the goal of helping some of the<br />

most vulnerable and needy people in <strong>Southampton</strong>,<br />

faith groups and community members<br />

have worked with the local authority to<br />

provide solutions that lead to lasting change.<br />

This collective effort demonstrates the transformative<br />

potential of community engagement<br />

in the face of systemic challenges. Without the<br />

lifechanging interventions of the church contributing<br />

to the support offered to communities<br />

these injustices will continue to be experienced<br />

as state provision fails to adequately<br />

meet even the most basic living conditions.<br />

Despite a major decrease in applications during<br />

the COVID-19 pandemic , and smaller<br />

numbers of people arriving via humanitarian<br />

routes, the number of asylum claims has been<br />

quickly increasing to pre-pandemic levels<br />

and even to the last peak in 2002 at 84,132<br />

applications . Therefore, local organisations<br />

are needed even more, not only to meet the<br />

needs of those who are awaiting an outcome<br />

and have started to integrate, but to continue<br />

to respond and intervene with compassion<br />

and practical support as the number of people<br />

claiming asylum and being granted protection<br />

increases.<br />

Public responses to the increasing numbers<br />

of asylum claims can vary, especially given<br />

the prominence and coverage in both national<br />

politics and the media. The influence of such<br />

can lead people to overestimate the number<br />

of refugees coming to the UK disproportionately<br />

in comparison to other migration groups;<br />

with the potential to increase fear and create<br />

resistance against a minority group of people<br />

arriving in the UK. However, out of the 1.18 million<br />

people entering the country in the year<br />

ending June 2023, only 9% (83,000) arrived<br />

on humanitarian routes , and only 7% (90,000)<br />

arrived for asylum (with 36% of the total number<br />

migrating due to work-related visas) . 33%<br />

(322,000) arrived on work related visas, 39%<br />

on study related visas (378,000), 7% on family<br />

related visas (70,000) and 5% arriving on other<br />

long-term visas (37,000).<br />

As people continue to arrive in the UK fleeing<br />

a myriad of atrocities and shocking circumstances<br />

the response and support that they<br />

receive from the community has profound implications,<br />

influencing not only our lives and<br />

society at large, but also presenting an opportunity<br />

to extend compassion and assistance<br />

to those who have already faced such severe<br />

hardships.<br />

However, amidst the narrative of challenges<br />

and hardships stemming from a seemingly unalterable<br />

system, a different possibility of real<br />

hope emerges. Over the past 20 years, community<br />

groups including churches have proactively<br />

responded to these tangible needs in<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong>, showcasing how communities<br />

can step in and provide lifechanging support.<br />

From mentoring, employment advice, and<br />

support with English language, to providing<br />

housing, food, welcome programmes and legal<br />

casework advice sessions; people have been<br />

stepping into the gaps with wide ranging holistic<br />

support.<br />

Reasons for entering the UK year ending June 2023<br />

Not only do these interventions help those<br />

arriving in the UK feel welcomed and safe,<br />

make a positive impact on physical and mental<br />

health and provide expert assistance with<br />

asylum claims, they enable individuals to begin<br />

to recover from their trauma and see the possibility<br />

of integrating into UK society.<br />

Figure 2<br />



2) Who are asylum seekers,<br />

refugees, and migrants?<br />

People arriving in the UK can do so through<br />

different routes set out by the Home Office.<br />

They have faced different challenges and as<br />

a result they have different levels of need.<br />

Despite these differences, the importance of<br />

successful integration through the support of<br />

local communities remains the same.<br />

In providing definitions and an overview of the<br />

distinctions between refugees, asylum seekers,<br />

migrants and legal routes this evaluation<br />

aims to demonstrate how support should be<br />

tailored to the various stages and challenges<br />

faced by those on integration journeys.<br />

Often interpreted inter-changeably these<br />

terms combined with the role that the media<br />

plays in characterising refugees, feeds a cyclical<br />

relationship that contributes to the forming<br />

and shifting of national policy, public attitudes,<br />

and individual responses offered by members<br />

of society . Furthermore, research shows that<br />

public perceptions and attitudes towards refugees,<br />

asylum seekers and migrants impact<br />

how they are welcomed and integrated into<br />

host communities.<br />

Therefore, by clarifying the drivers and differences<br />

between different stages and groups,<br />

this section seeks to dispel any potential misconceptions<br />

regarding the entitlements and<br />

lived experiences of those arriving seeking<br />

safety in this country, while demonstrating a<br />

need for tailored interventions according to<br />

specific circumstances if successful integration<br />

is to be achieved.<br />


An asylum seeker is someone who has applied<br />

for refuge in a different country, fearing<br />

persecution in their country of origin. Asylum<br />

seekers become recognised as refugees having<br />

received a decision on their application for<br />

refugee status.<br />

In the UK a person can only apply for asylum<br />

when they are physically in the UK . It is not<br />

illegal to claim asylum, but it is illegal to enter<br />

and remain in the UK without official documents<br />

such as a visa or passport. Having<br />

submitted an asylum claim, a person is legally<br />

allowed to remain in the UK. While waiting for a<br />

decision from the Home Office asylum seekers<br />

can apply for support (under section 95 of the<br />

Immigration and Asylum Act 1999), however<br />

certain rights and the ability to work are temporarily<br />

restricted.<br />


A refugee, according to the 1951 United Nations<br />

Convention, is an individual with a<br />

“well-founded fear of persecution based on<br />

race, religion, nationality, membership of a<br />

particular social group, or political opinion” .<br />

In the UK, refugee status is confirmed by the<br />

Home Office following a successful asylum application<br />

where right to remain has been granted.<br />

For some who don’t qualify for refugee status<br />

Humanitarian Protection may be offered if<br />

it isn’t possible to return to their home country .<br />

Those granted refugee status have permission<br />

to remain in the UK for a minimum of 5 years,<br />

and they can work without any restrictions.<br />


A migrant, on the other hand, is someone who<br />

chooses to move to another country for various<br />

reasons, such as finding work, education,<br />

or rejoining family members . Unlike refugees,<br />

they are not forced to flee their country for<br />

fear of persecution.<br />

The process for arrival involves a visa application.<br />

The length of stay depends on the<br />

visa, but citizenship or indefinite leave remain<br />

as options for those who wish to live, work or<br />

study in the UK for an extended period.<br />



Someone who has moved for work purposes.<br />

They may be legally here as an EU citizen or a<br />

non-EU citizen on a work visa, or here working<br />

illegally with no permit. This is the largest<br />

group of people being granted permission to<br />

stay and work in the country, far more than the<br />

number of people coming to claim asylum or<br />

on humanitarian routes.<br />




Someone who is here with no visa granting the<br />

right to stay and who has not sought asylum,<br />

or someone who has overstayed their visa or<br />

gone underground after their asylum claim is<br />

refused.<br />



Someone whose claim has been rejected.<br />

They have no recourse to public funds and are<br />

liable to be removed from the country.<br />


Pre-settled status permits holders the rights<br />

to live, work and study in the UK, but is limited<br />

to a period of five years.<br />



Indefinite leave to remain, often referred to as<br />

‘settlement,’ is where refugees are given permission<br />

for permanent residence in the UK.<br />

This status grants the freedom to reside, work,<br />

and pursue studies in the country indefinitely.<br />

Additionally, having indefinite leave to remain<br />

means that the holder is able to apply for British<br />

citizenship.<br />


ROUTES<br />

In addition to those applying for asylum upon<br />

arrival, the UK offers a variety of other legal<br />

entry routes. While some schemes such as<br />

the UK Resettlement Scheme are global, others<br />

such as the Afghan Citizens Resettlement<br />

Scheme are in response to specific world<br />

events. Whereas anyone can apply for asylum,<br />

these other legal pathways prioritise people<br />

who meet the eligibility criteria. The Home<br />

Office works closely with the United Nations<br />

High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on<br />

many schemes to set out which groups of individuals<br />

are recognised as refugees, the specific<br />

level of risk, and prioritise which groups<br />

get resettled using the following categories :<br />

• Legal and / or physical protection<br />

needs<br />

• Survivors of violence and / or<br />

torture<br />

• Medical needs<br />

• Women and girls at risk<br />

• Family reunification<br />

• Children and adolescents at risk<br />

• Lack of foreseeable alternative<br />

durable solutions<br />


Resettlement refers to the global resettlement<br />

scheme launched in 2021 which sees people<br />

who have already been recognised as refugees<br />

by the UNHCR, voluntarily transferred to<br />

another country. The UK’s three resettlement<br />

schemes are the UK Resettlement Scheme<br />

(UKRS), the Community Sponsorship Scheme<br />

and the Mandate Resettlement Scheme.<br />

UKRS - The UKRS is led by national government<br />

in partnership with the UNHCR and takes<br />

into account national and local authority budgets<br />

to determine the number of refugees that<br />

can be supported.<br />

Community Sponsorship Scheme - While<br />

the UKRS is led by national government, the<br />

Community Sponsorship Scheme is led by civic<br />

society and allows local communities to directly<br />

support refugees being resettled in the<br />

UK . Community sponsorship requires a lot of<br />

resource as sponsors become responsible for<br />

supporting the resettled family with housing<br />

for two years, in addition to a range of additional<br />

activities that aid integration including<br />

assistance organising English language tuition,<br />

employment and social welfare.<br />

Mandate Resettlement Scheme - The Mandate<br />

Resettlement Scheme, launched in 1995,<br />

resettles refugees from across the world with<br />

their close family members who already have<br />

settled status in the UK . The UNHCR decides<br />

whether a refugee needs to be resettled. They<br />

must also be either a child, spouse, parent or<br />

grandparent (over the age of 65) of the person<br />

who already has settled status in the UK.<br />



Launched in 2022 the UK government has<br />

pledged to resettle up to 20,000 Afghan citizens<br />

through ARCS. The scheme seeks to resettle<br />

and provide safety to people who have<br />

either assisted the UK in Afghanistan, are a<br />

vulnerable group (at risk women and girls fearing<br />

abuse, religious minorities and LGBTQ+),<br />

or are facing risk due to standing up for values<br />

of democracy, women’s rights and freedom of<br />

speech.<br />


There are currently four schemes in the UK<br />

to help Ukrainians find safety from the Russian<br />

invasion of Ukraine . They are the Ukraine<br />

Family Scheme, Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship<br />

Scheme, Ukraine Extension Scheme and<br />

the Ukraine Permission Extension Scheme.<br />



(ARAP)<br />

Launched in 2021, the ARAP provides the opportunity<br />

for eligible Afghan citizens, their<br />

partners and children to relocate to the UK ​<br />

(Home Office, 2023)​. This policy seeks to relocate<br />

Afghan citizens who are in situations of<br />

high risk or imminent threat due to being employees<br />

of UK Government or people who provided<br />

assistance such as linguistic services to<br />

aid the UK’s Armed Forces in Afghanistan from<br />

2001 onwards.<br />



The Ukraine Family Scheme grants visas to<br />

applicants to live, work and study if they have<br />

family members already living in the UK.<br />

The Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme<br />

is open to any Ukraine national and their family<br />

wishing to come to live, work and study in<br />

the UK for 3 years. It allows the community to<br />

provide support by sponsoring families and<br />

providing housing for a minimum of 6 months .<br />

The Ukraine Extension Scheme (which closes<br />

on the 16th May 2024) provides visas enabling<br />

Ukrainians and their family members to remain<br />

in the UK if they have previously had permission<br />

between March 2022 and November<br />

2023, or previous permission that had expired<br />

on or after January 2022 .<br />

The Ukraine Permission Extension Scheme<br />

is for those that have been given permission<br />

to be in the UK under one of the Ukraine<br />

Schemes and enables them to apply for a further<br />

18 months permission to stay in the UK<br />

and can be applied for up to 3 months before<br />

an existing visa is due to expire. Information is<br />

yet to be provided from the UK government on<br />

this new scheme.<br />



Launched in January 2021, this route to the UK<br />

supports Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas)<br />

by granting visas to work and study in<br />

the UK for 5 years, in addition to the possibility<br />

of applying for British citizenship.<br />

The route was launched in response to the imposition<br />

of national security law on Hong Kong<br />

by the Chinese Government in 2020; a law that<br />

threatens political freedoms such as freedom<br />

of speech and freedom of assembly through<br />

strict and brutal policing.<br />

The UK has created this safe entry route as<br />

British Nationals (Overseas) is a form of British<br />

nationality created after the handover of Hong<br />

Kong to China in 1997 enabling people from<br />

Hong Kong to maintain connection to British<br />

Nationality. BN(O) status had to be applied for<br />

before June 1997, is valid for life, but cannot be<br />

passed down to children.<br />

BN(O) status does not entitle an automatic<br />

right to live in the UK, meaning that people<br />

wishing to immigrate to the UK need to do so<br />

through immigration control. By creating this<br />

bespoke safe passage, the UK Government<br />

creates a more effective route for BN(O)s to<br />

enter the UK and find safety from political oppression.<br />

The nationality of people arriving in the UK for<br />

humanitarian reasons varies year on year depending<br />

on the different schemes available,<br />

and the legislation. In 2021 the top 15 most<br />

common countries where asylum seekers<br />

came from can be seen in Figure 3. In 2022 the<br />

breakdown had changed, with 31% of asylum<br />

seekers being of Asian nationality, 24% being<br />

European, Middle Eastern 23% and African<br />

making up 17% of the total. The shift in these<br />

statistics over just two years demonstrates<br />

how global crisis, maltreatment and hardships<br />

are continuing, further cementing the need for<br />

ongoing, specialist aid that takes into account<br />

the differing yet ongoing causes for people<br />

forced to come and find safety.<br />



Individuals and their families may vary caseto-case<br />

regarding the reasons they are forced<br />

to flee their homes, yet they are united in the<br />

shared hope of finding safety from persecution<br />

and threat. While it is hard to imagine the<br />

atrocities and challenges affecting communities<br />

and forcing them to flee for fear of their<br />

life due to war, natural disasters and famine, it<br />

is perhaps harder still to imagine the fear experienced<br />

because of persecution because of<br />

an individual’s identity, political opinion or religious<br />

belief.<br />

One group is not more deserving of support<br />

than another, but for the purpose of this evaluation<br />

in encouraging faith-based groups to<br />

continue and build upon the work with marginalised<br />

groups it is important to draw attention<br />

to the fact that many of the people seeking<br />

support do so for something that can often<br />

be taken for granted in the UK; the freedom of<br />

their faith.<br />

Whether it be through governmental restrictions<br />

on religious groups or through social<br />

hostilities committed by individuals and communities,<br />

countless people around the world<br />

are still being persecuted for their faith. Ranging<br />

from derogatory statements, intimidation,<br />

stereotyping and threats to property, damage,<br />

attacks, forced displacement and even murder,<br />

Open Doors (a Christian advocacy group)<br />

has calculated that at least 360 million Christians<br />

are experiencing extreme levels of persecution.<br />

Religious persecution is increasing. Out of 198<br />

countries in 2019, it was assessed that 190<br />

saw religious groups experience harassment<br />

and the number of countries where Christians<br />

experienced persecution increased from 102<br />

to 153 (77% of analysed countries) between<br />

2013 and 2019 . While people may flee their<br />

country because of Christian persecution, it is<br />

also true that others will flee that same country<br />

because of stringent laws restricting sexuality,<br />

political dissidence and other expressions of<br />

religion. British values that uphold respect and<br />

tolerance, the rule of law, democracy and individual<br />

liberty are values not shared across the<br />

world, and various minority groups in different<br />

societies will not necessarily share the same<br />

faith as Christians, but will share the same<br />

fate, with targeted discrimination, time in prison<br />

and even death penalties for their beliefs or<br />

practices.<br />

Figure 3<br />



The same report noted that while social hostilities<br />

related to religion declined in 2019, more<br />

religious groups experienced harassment in<br />

more countries by their governments . Some<br />

governments not only have the power to limit<br />

conversion between religions, ban religious<br />

literature and texts (including the Bible), turn a<br />

blind eye to discrimination in the legal system;<br />

but they also have the resources to monitor individuals’<br />

activities too . In these countries it is<br />

hard to access support from those wanting to<br />

help, or even shift opinions as it is the government<br />

that may then prosecute anyone who is<br />

deemed to be against the state.<br />

economic instability, environmental disasters,<br />

gender-based violence, human rights violations<br />

and the discrimination of LGBTQ+ communities.<br />

Many face the same fate without the<br />

help and support provided, despite having a<br />

different faith.<br />

However, amidst the differences of ideologies,<br />

faiths, and beliefs, the Christian community in<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> seeks to offer support to anyone<br />

in need of help, regardless of religious affiliation<br />

or background.<br />

Christians however are not the only people<br />

facing such violent and dangerous acts against<br />

them. Pew Research Centre’s study on harassment<br />

in 198 countries reported that Muslims<br />

were harassed in 139 different countries,<br />

Jews in 88 countries and Hindus in 19 . Alongside<br />

religious persecution, various other factors<br />

contribute to forced displacement. These<br />

include political oppression, ethnic conflicts,<br />



3) The process of applying<br />

for asylum<br />

The application process that leads to an asylum<br />

seeker being granted leave to remain is<br />

not easy, nor is it simple. Not only is it of paramount<br />

importance in determining whether<br />

a person seeking asylum may stay in the UK,<br />

but it impacts how applicants integrate as they<br />

await a decision, and it affects their quality of<br />

life after a decision is made. Before exploring<br />

the challenges experienced through this process,<br />

this section describes the process of applying<br />

for refugee status and then seeking to<br />

settle into a new country.<br />


Claiming asylum<br />

Entering the UK and claiming asylum are critical<br />

steps in the process. Asylum cannot be<br />

claimed prior to arrival to the UK in the same<br />

way in which a visa application is made and<br />

granted. Therefore, in order to avoid deportation<br />

people arriving in the UK should claim<br />

asylum as quickly as possible. For those who<br />

claim asylum immediately upon arrival at an<br />

airport or port, an immigration officer will conduct<br />

a screening interview. Various reasons<br />

may hinder individuals from claiming asylum<br />

immediately, such as lacking a passport or arriving<br />

on a work visa.<br />

The screening interview<br />

If asylum is claimed on arrival, a screening interview<br />

is conducted by an immigration officer<br />

at the airport or port of arrival. However, if<br />

claimed later, it takes place at a screening unit.<br />

This is the first interview that asylum seekers<br />

take part in. During this interview, individuals<br />

are questioned about why they are seeking<br />

asylum and the journey they undertook. Failure<br />

to convince the authorities that there are<br />

sufficient grounds to need asylum in the UK<br />

may lead to the individual being sent to a detention<br />

centre.<br />

Temporary initial accommodation<br />

Asylum seekers are placed in temporary initial<br />

accommodation centres before they are<br />

dispersed to longer term housing. Often, refugees<br />

are placed in shared housing or hostels,<br />

where they receive the most basic amenities<br />

and support services.<br />

Dispersal aims to prevent an overwhelming<br />

concentration of asylum seekers in a particular<br />

city or local authority. Previously in the UK<br />

cities and local authorities could sign up to be<br />

a dispersal city that would receive refugees,<br />

however this system is no longer in place as<br />

the spread of where asylum seekers were<br />

housed remained very uneven.<br />

Dispersal accommodation is when individuals<br />

are moved to new accommodation<br />

in a different location. If asylum seekers lack<br />

housing or financial resources, they can seek<br />

asylum support. This assistance provides a<br />

small amount of money and accommodation,<br />

although individuals typically have limited control<br />

over their living situation unless someone<br />

offers them a place, for example with family<br />

members.<br />

The adult Streamlined Asylum Processing<br />

Questionnaire was introduced on<br />

23rd February 2023 by the Home Office where<br />

some people seeking asylum are only required<br />

to complete a questionnaire instead of having<br />

a substantive interview. The policy was<br />

designed to streamline applications for those<br />

from countries with a high number of granted<br />

claims, including Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya,<br />

Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran and Sudan.<br />

The substantive interview is a detailed<br />

examination by the Home Office seeking evidence<br />

and reasons behind the asylum claim.<br />

These interviews, whether in person or conducted<br />

online via video link, are exhaustive<br />

and can last several hours.<br />

Following the substantive interview, the Home<br />

Office makes a decision, a process that may<br />

take many months, even over a year. A positive<br />

decision results in the announcement of being<br />

granted leave to remain in the UK, either as a<br />

refugee or under humanitarian protection. In<br />

case of a refusal, individuals have the option<br />

to appeal the decision.<br />



4) The challenges faced upon<br />

arrival in the UK<br />

Integration into a new society with a different language and systems is challenging and disorientating<br />

for people arriving on visas that allow a person to work and find accommodation from the<br />

point of arrival, but for those going through the asylum system the challenges faced awaiting a<br />

decision have a profound impact upon their physical and mental health, as well as their quality<br />

of life once a decision has been made. Limited government support combined with the delays in<br />

receiving a decision due to an ineffective system isn’t enough on its own to stop asylum seekers<br />

and refugees from escaping the risks of poverty, homelessness, and ill health.<br />

In order to best provide interventions that have maximum impact in the lives of these people, it is<br />

important to understand the challenges that they face.<br />

The temporal<br />

The temporal aspect of applying for asylum<br />

and recognition of refugee status is especially<br />

challenging. On one hand people seeking asylum<br />

are expected to respond within days and<br />

at short notice as they progress through the<br />

stages of their application, yet on the other it<br />

can take up to a year to get a response from<br />

the Home Office. This prolonged waiting period<br />

exacts a profound toll on mental health,<br />

leaving individuals in a state of perpetual uncertainty<br />

for months, unable to establish roots<br />

or engage in productive work, unable to start<br />

building their life, move on from the traumas<br />

experienced, and unsure what the future will<br />

look like and whether they will be allowed to<br />

remain.<br />

According to the ‘Statistics relating to the Illegal<br />

Migration Act’ adhoc release, dated 29th<br />

October 2023, there were 122,585 main case<br />

applicants awaiting an initial decision. Of this<br />

number 27% were legacy cases and 89,332<br />

were flow cases; revealing that to this day<br />

some 33,253 people have yet to receive a<br />

response on their initial decision from before<br />

2008!<br />

The existence of enduring legacy cases underscores<br />

the persistent struggles of individuals<br />

who linger in a state of uncertainty, grappling<br />

with conditions that are not only detrimental to<br />

their mental health, but also hinder their ability<br />

to work and exacerbate the prevailing uncertainty<br />

regarding their fate.<br />

The technical<br />

One of the most daunting aspects is the sheer<br />

complexity of the system that people seeking<br />

asylum need to navigate in order to make their<br />

claim. Providing enough of the relevant evidence<br />

to substantiate the claim is a formidable<br />

task, as refugees often find themselves grappling<br />

with unfamiliar legal requirements.<br />

When I came at the beginning<br />

everything was new. I didn’t know what<br />

would be my next step. I didn’t know<br />

what was happening or what was<br />

going to happen<br />

– <strong>CLEAR</strong> Client receiving help with their asylum claim<br />

When I came at the beginning everything was new. I didn’t know what<br />

would be my next step. I didn’t know what was happening or what was<br />

going to happen or now<br />

– <strong>CLEAR</strong> Client receiving help with their asylum claim<br />

– <strong>CLEAR</strong> Client receiving help with their asylum claim<br />



The complexity extends beyond merely recounting<br />

their experiences to the Home Office<br />

or an immigration officer; it involves understanding<br />

the nuanced legal criteria that govern<br />

asylum decisions.<br />

The claim for asylum is made more difficult<br />

for people who are applying with their family.<br />

The process of adding family members as<br />

‘dependants’ is intricate, and the connections<br />

need to be meticulously documented to bolster<br />

their case. This involves not only presenting<br />

individual stories of persecution, but also<br />

demonstrating and evidencing a comprehensive<br />

narrative that captures the interdependence<br />

and shared vulnerabilities experienced.<br />

Additionally, the landscape of asylum and refugee<br />

policies is highly dynamic and subject<br />

to frequent changes that significantly impact<br />

the chances of successful claims. Remaining<br />

not only aware but having an understanding<br />

of these policies so that they can benefit the<br />

claim is crucial, as it directly influences the<br />

strategies refugees employ in presenting their<br />

cases.<br />

The changes and volatility in policies underscores<br />

the importance of seeking timely and<br />

accurate guidance, creating an additional layer<br />

of difficulty for those navigating the system.<br />

It would be challenging even for native English<br />

speakers to navigate the requirements needed<br />

to form a case, but this is compounded due to<br />

the formidable language barrier that some refugees<br />

face. It makes it not only challenging to<br />

understand what is being required, but arduous<br />

to articulate their experiences accurately.<br />

Miscommunication can lead to critical misunderstandings,<br />

which potentially jeopardise the<br />

success of their asylum claims.<br />

– <strong>CLEAR</strong> Client receiving help with their asylum claim<br />

– <strong>CLEAR</strong> Client receiving help with their asylum claim<br />

The trauma<br />

Refugees seeking asylum face a daunting challenge<br />

as they navigate the process of having<br />

to recount traumatic experiences to establish<br />

the validity of their claims. The very nature of<br />

their ordeal, often marked by persecution and<br />

violence, makes it extremely difficult to revisit<br />

the painful memories embedded in their journey<br />

to safety.<br />

One of the most significant obstacles lies in<br />

the often invisible and silent trauma that survivors<br />

carry with them. These individuals have<br />

endured unimaginable horrors, and a compassionate<br />

and supportive environment for processing<br />

and healing from their experiences is<br />

needed. However, the asylum application process<br />

compels them to relive these agonising<br />

moments as they articulate their narratives to<br />

justify their need for refuge. This harrowing<br />

task not only takes an emotional toll on the applicants<br />

but also exposes them to an additional<br />

layer of vulnerability in front of a government<br />

and people that they don’t know.<br />

For people seeking asylum, placing trust in a<br />

new government is a challenge. The very officials<br />

responsible for reviewing their asylum<br />

claims may evoke memories of the oppressive<br />

forces they are seeking to claim refuge from.<br />

Therefore, it can be hard to know who to trust.<br />

Being in a new country and placed in an unknown<br />

city without yet having built a community<br />

is frightening and lonely, and can easily<br />

aggravate feelings of isolation.<br />

The ubiquitous sense of the loss of home can<br />

be for many reasons including their detachment<br />

from family members, their home country<br />

being changed beyond recognition through<br />

political changes or even literal loss of home<br />

through war and bombings. This grief is a<br />

source of sadness and often of trauma that<br />

can impact their health, mental and physical<br />

as well as their wellbeing as they resettle in<br />

the UK.<br />

Housing and location<br />

Asylum seekers are placed in temporary accommodations<br />

where they share living spaces<br />

with fellow seekers. This communal living arrangement<br />

frequently results in overcrowded<br />

conditions, compromising not only individual<br />

privacy, but also personal space. In 2021 the<br />

Refugee Council (a leading nationwide charity<br />

working with refugees) noted that there had<br />

been a 27% increase in families living in single<br />

hotel rooms.<br />

In addition to the overcrowding, the quality of<br />

these temporary lodgings varies widely, with<br />

reports revealing substandard living conditions.<br />

Issues such as poor hygiene, insufficient<br />

heating and inadequate facilities contribute to<br />

a challenging environment for those already<br />

grappling with the challenges of seeking asylum.<br />

The buildings can often be of poor quality<br />

with examples of crumbling ceilings, high levels<br />

of damp, infestations of rats due to poor<br />

rubbish disposal; as well as lack of security<br />

and adequate locks on doors. Furthermore,<br />

the lack of facilities such as computers and<br />

Wifi hinders access to support and systems<br />

through which the gateway is online.<br />

The dispersal process adds another layer of<br />

complexity to the housing dilemma. Asylum<br />

seekers are subject to being moved from their<br />

initial accommodation to different locations,<br />

disrupting any sense of stability they may have<br />

gained, often with very short notice. This constant<br />

upheaval and uncertainty really hinders<br />

the journey of acclimating to a new environment<br />

and establishing connections within local<br />

communities. The experience of being moved<br />

about during the dispersal process without<br />

much notice, without any choice, further adds<br />

to the struggle experienced by refugees. It not<br />

only disrupts their attempts to build a semblance<br />

of normalcy and life, but also hampers<br />

their ability to integrate into the society they<br />

hope to call home.<br />

The conditions which people seeking asylum<br />

(and those awaiting a decision) face is not<br />

only one of complex legal processes, but also<br />

a challenge with regards to human dignity and<br />

wellbeing. In order to combat these injustices<br />

– <strong>CLEAR</strong> Client receiving help with their asylum claim<br />

– <strong>CLEAR</strong> Client receiving help with their asylum claim<br />

stable and good quality living conditions need<br />

to be ensured while meeting the holistic needs<br />

that lead to improved mental health and wellbeing.<br />

This will aid integration and contribution<br />

to community life and society at large.<br />

Employment<br />

One of the significant challenges faced by<br />

asylum seekers is the prohibition on employment<br />

while awaiting the outcome of their asylum<br />

claims. This restriction deprives individuals<br />

of the opportunity to earn a living legally,<br />

hindering their ability to support themselves<br />

and those accompanying them. The consequence<br />

is a dependency on the accommodation<br />

and sustenance provided by the Home<br />

Office which often falls short of providing the<br />

necessary conditions for a healthy life. The<br />

financial allowance is £49.18 for each person<br />

in a household (approximately £7 a day to live<br />

off). Moreover this support is only available<br />

for those in asylum accommodation, not those<br />

who are placed in hotel accommodation which<br />

places these people at even greater disadvantage.<br />

This inadequacy is particularly glaring given<br />

the traumatic experiences and additional<br />

needs that asylum seekers have faced in their<br />

journey to the UK.<br />

The prohibition on working not only imposes<br />

financial constraints, but also confines individuals<br />

to subpar living conditions, exacerbating<br />

the difficulties they have already encountered.<br />

The immigration rules do allow asylum seekers<br />

to request permission to work, but only in jobs<br />

listed as experiencing a shortage in the UK.<br />

Part of the issue we have is<br />

overthinking what you’re going to do<br />

next. You can’t work and hustle and<br />

you feel down not being able to do<br />

anything with your time. You don’t<br />

want to just stay at home but you have<br />

nothing to do otherwise<br />

– <strong>CLEAR</strong> Client receiving help with their asylum claim<br />



Asylum seekers are however able to volunteer<br />

while they await a decision. Yet, while<br />

this may aid future employment opportunities<br />

in the long term by gaining work experience it<br />

doesn’t help mitigate the challenges that are<br />

experienced as they await a decision. This<br />

limited concession underscores the systemic<br />

challenges within the asylum process. Even if<br />

individuals are waiting for a decision on their<br />

initial claim or a fresh claim, the opportunities<br />

for employment are severely restricted,<br />

emphasising the shortcomings of a system<br />

that fails to provide meaningful pathways for<br />

self-sufficiency.<br />

Furthermore, the provision that permits work<br />

after 12 months without a decision is insufficient<br />

and fails to address the harsh reality of<br />

the asylum-seeking experience. The prospect<br />

of spending a year in crowded and unsanitary<br />

accommodations, unable to progress in life, is<br />

a stark contrast to the professional lives that<br />

many asylum seekers once led. This stark<br />

transition not only impedes personal development,<br />

but also reinforces a sense of helplessness<br />

and frustration.<br />

In essence, the inability to work during the<br />

asylum application process presents a multifaceted<br />

challenge that extends beyond mere<br />

financial limitations. It encompasses the denial<br />

of autonomy, the perpetuation of inadequate<br />

living conditions, and the absence of a reasonable<br />

timeline for integrating into the workforce.<br />

As policymakers contemplate immigration reforms,<br />

addressing these issues becomes imperative<br />

to create a more humane and inclusive<br />

system that recognises the potential and<br />

resilience of asylum seekers seeking refuge in<br />

a new country.<br />

Language barriers<br />

Navigating the asylum application process is<br />

compounded by formidable language barriers<br />

that permeate various aspects of an individual’s<br />

experience. The impact of these barriers<br />

extends beyond mere linguistic challenges,<br />

influencing the emotional and practical dimensions<br />

of the asylum-seeking journey. Firstly,<br />

language barriers create a pervasive sense of<br />

vulnerability, affecting how applicants interpret<br />

and respond to the intricate questions posed<br />

during the application process. The reliance<br />

on others for accurate translation introduces<br />

an element of uncertainty, making it challenging<br />

for applicants to fully trust the information<br />

they are providing.<br />

Moreover, the language barrier extends beyond<br />

the application itself, encompassing everyday<br />

tasks such as understanding what evidence is<br />

required and when, or even figuring out how<br />

to navigate public transport for the application<br />

process. These seemingly mundane challenges<br />

compound the stress and isolation felt by<br />

people seeking asylum, particularly when residing<br />

in dispersal accommodation alongside<br />

others who may also be grappling with language<br />

barriers. The inability to connect with<br />

fellow residents and engage with the broader<br />

community becomes an additional hurdle, hindering<br />

the development of a supportive social<br />

network during what can be prolonged periods<br />

of uncertainty.<br />

The lack of availability of formal, effective and<br />

accessible ESOL provision within a location,<br />

and of qualified teachers makes it difficult to<br />

find opportunities to get tailored input and<br />

learn the host language.<br />

Language barriers also cast a shadow over<br />

substantive interviews, where applicants may<br />

grapple with the uncertainty of whether they<br />

are being accurately understood. This uncertainty<br />

introduces an element of doubt, potentially<br />

impacting the fairness and accuracy of<br />

the asylum determination process. Additionally,<br />

these language challenges influence how<br />

individuals access essential resources and<br />

support systems, further exacerbating their<br />

vulnerability in an unfamiliar environment.<br />

In essence, the pervasive nature of language<br />

barriers throughout the asylum application<br />

journey underscores the need for comprehensive<br />

support structures that address not only<br />

the linguistic challenges, but also the emotional<br />

and social dimensions of the asylum-seeking<br />

experience. By recognising and actively<br />

mitigating these barriers, policymakers can<br />

contribute to a more equitable and humane<br />

asylum process that ensures the fair and just<br />

treatment of those seeking refuge.<br />

Access to legal<br />

and other advice<br />

With the reduction in legal aid and increasing<br />

demand for immigration advice, accessing a<br />

solicitor can be difficult. In <strong>Southampton</strong> there<br />

is only one firm offering this support (Leonards).<br />

Recent initiatives such as the Hampshire<br />

Immigration Advice Partnership, facilitated by<br />

Refugee Action, have brought together practitioners<br />

to map provision and look for ways to<br />

address these needs. A report by Dr Jo Wilding<br />

identified a number of ‘Immigration Deserts’ in<br />

the UK and concluded that “there is not enough<br />

immigration and asylum legal advice available<br />

country-wide and this leaves people at risk of<br />

forced return to a country where they face serious<br />

harm, of exploitation of the kinds referred<br />

to in the Modern Slavery Act, of remaining in a<br />

violent or abusive relationship, or of extreme<br />

poverty and deprivation of access to essential<br />

services because they cannot regularise or<br />

prove their immigration status”.<br />

The capacity of advice agencies to provide input<br />

on topics such as housing, debt or benefits<br />

is also under increasing demand.<br />



5) The role of faith groups<br />

Why should faith groups<br />

respond?<br />

The goal of this evaluation is to encourage<br />

other faith groups and Christian organisations<br />

to make a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable<br />

people by stepping up and supporting<br />

in these challenging areas. This is founded on<br />

the evidence provided in this evaluation that<br />

people can make a difference, and for Christians<br />

the Bible lays out principles of welcoming<br />

strangers and being hospitable that underpins<br />

intentional programmes that support asylum<br />

seekers and refugees.<br />

Grounded in the principles of love, justice and<br />

unity, the response to the refugee crisis is not<br />

merely a humanitarian gesture, nor just a point<br />

for our prayer journals, but a reflection of the<br />

transformative power of the good news in action.<br />

This instruction to love one another and<br />

help the poor and vulnerable runs throughout<br />

both the Old and New Testament.<br />

The Bible emphasises the importance of seeking<br />

justice and mercy for the oppressed and<br />

marginalised. Psalm 82:3-4 calls believers to<br />

defend the weak, uphold the cause of the poor<br />

and deliver the needy from the hand of the<br />

wicked. Many refugees have fled persecution,<br />

violence and injustice in their homelands, and<br />

Christians are called to stand in solidarity with<br />

them, advocating for their rights and providing<br />

tangible support.<br />

At the heart of the Christian message lies the<br />

concept of love for one another, encapsulated<br />

in the commandment to love our neighbours<br />

as ourselves (Matthew 22:39; Luke 10:27).<br />

When asked “who is our neighbour?” Jesus<br />

challenges believers to embody sacrificial love<br />

and selflessness in their interactions with others<br />

as he shared the parable of the Good Samaritan<br />

(Luke 10:25-37). A parable that many<br />

Christians have grown up hearing since their<br />

Sunday School days, a Samaritan goes out of<br />

his way to care for a wounded stranger, disregarding<br />

cultural and societal barriers to offer<br />

aid and compassion.<br />

Not only is this act of practical compassion a<br />

challenge to Christians due to the tense political<br />

nature of the relationship between the<br />

wounded man and the Samaritan (they were<br />

deemed enemies); but also, for the fact that<br />

Jesus showed how religious figures walked on<br />

without helping the wounded man.<br />

Following the example of the Samaritan, Christians<br />

are called to transcend political, cultural,<br />

and societal divides to extend practical assistance<br />

to refugees, embodying the radical<br />

love and compassion of Christ. Christians will<br />

therefore not just look to the needs of their<br />

own churches and congregations but respond<br />

to needs regardless of people’s backgrounds.<br />

Another parable told by Jesus about the separation<br />

of the sheep and goats, in Matthew 25,<br />

highlights how helping the hungry, the thirsty,<br />

the poor, the sick, and the ‘stranger’ is a distinguishable<br />

outworking of the life of a Christian.<br />

Jesus says that anyone who helps one of<br />

these people has helped Jesus himself.<br />

Many churches have overseas missionaries<br />

and partners sent to nations across the world<br />

with the goal of spreading the gospel to other<br />

people groups who may not have heard of<br />

Jesus. Based on the Great Commission to “Go<br />

and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew<br />

28:16) they seek to share their faith through a<br />

mixture of church planting, Bible teaching and<br />

humanitarian support.<br />

However, the increasing numbers of people<br />

fleeing from the nations to the UK means that<br />

the opportunity for sharing and reaching the<br />

nations is made possible closer to home within<br />

the changing fabric of the communities within<br />

which churches are already a part.<br />



How should faith groups<br />

respond?<br />

Asylum seekers, refugees, and displaced people<br />

are coming to the UK from other nations<br />

and are on our doorstep. While overseas mission<br />

partners certainly have their value, the<br />

opportunity presented with people arriving in<br />

the UK is not only for a few in the congregation<br />

but for the whole Christian community to actively<br />

respond to. The Great Commission can<br />

start at home and still impact the nations. As in<br />

the parable of the Good Samaritan, this evaluation<br />

challenges and encourages Christians<br />

to look out for and support the people who are<br />

already on the path in front of them, the people<br />

that they pass on the day-to-day journey<br />

of life in the UK.<br />

The values of kindness, generosity and<br />

self-sacrifice are at the heart of the Good Samaritan<br />

story and they are also the very values<br />

that are needed to help people feel welcome<br />

in our towns and cities. Faith groups can reflect<br />

on how these values are being exhibited<br />

in their local communities – how is kindness<br />

being shown to those new to the area? How<br />

are we being generous to new arrivals? What<br />

time, energy or finance are we making available<br />

to welcome people? If faith groups then<br />

find themselves wanting to do more, how exactly<br />

do they go about it?<br />

It helps firstly to accept that a faith group can’t<br />

meet every need; trying to do so would not<br />

only be inappropriate, but also overwhelming<br />

and exhausting. Other agencies will have<br />

lead and supporting roles in this field but faith<br />

groups can perform some of the key elements<br />

of welcome particularly well.<br />

Teacher, which is the greatest<br />

commandment in the Law?<br />

Jesus<br />

Teacher,<br />

replied:<br />

which is the<br />

<strong>Love</strong><br />

greatest<br />

the<br />

commandment<br />

Lord<br />

in<br />

your<br />

the Law?<br />

God<br />

with all<br />

Jesus<br />

your<br />

replied: <strong>Love</strong><br />

heart<br />

the Lord your<br />

and<br />

God<br />

with<br />

with all your<br />

all<br />

heart<br />

your<br />

soul and<br />

and<br />

with<br />

with all your<br />

all<br />

soul<br />

your<br />

and with<br />

mind’.”<br />

all your mind’.”<br />

… “And<br />

the second<br />

“And the second<br />

is<br />

is<br />

like<br />

like it: ‘<strong>Love</strong><br />

it:<br />

your<br />

‘<strong>Love</strong><br />

neighbour<br />

your<br />

as yourself.<br />

neighbour as yourself.<br />

- Matthew 22:36-39 NIV<br />

- Matthew 22:36-39 NIV<br />

Some of the responses that have been particularly effective are listed below, and range from<br />

small acts of kindness like providing some clothing through to radical hospitality by offering a<br />

home for a Ukrainian family.<br />

Here are some HOW’s for faith groups to consider:<br />

• Welcome new arrivals<br />

• Become a ‘refugee friendly’<br />

church<br />

• Volunteer with an organisation<br />

that provides advice and get<br />

trained up to offer accredited immigration<br />

advice<br />

• Provide practical items like bicycles,<br />

food, clothing<br />

• Partner financially with a local<br />

organisation supporting asylum<br />

seekers and refugees<br />

• Join ‘Refugees at Home’ to host a<br />

refugee (https://refugeesathome.<br />

org/)<br />

• Host someone from Ukraine<br />

• Consider providing support<br />

through the government’s Community<br />

Sponsorship scheme<br />

• Start visiting a local detention<br />

centre<br />

• Help asylum seekers whose claim<br />

has been refused<br />

• Speak up for asylum seekers and<br />

refugees<br />

• Help refugees integrate into society<br />

– get trained up as an ESOL<br />

teacher, provide IT drop in facilities<br />

• Pray<br />

More information on some of these ideas can<br />

be found here:<br />

https://refugeeresourcecentre.org.uk/howcan-you-help/<br />



6) Introduction<br />

to the evaluation<br />

This evaluation of impact research was commissioned by <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> in response to the<br />

growing need and increasing number of challenges faced by people seeking asylum nationally;<br />

as well as a recognition of the work carried out in <strong>Southampton</strong> throughout the last 23 years. The<br />

project was structured and overseen in conjunction with <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>’s Independent Chair,<br />

members of the Executive Board with the support of City Life Education and Action for Refugees<br />

(<strong>CLEAR</strong>) and the trustees of <strong>Southampton</strong> City of Sanctuary.<br />

This evaluation has combined an in-depth review of research papers, government publications<br />

and statistics, internal desktop data and over 30 interviews (see Appendix 1). With the goal of<br />

demonstrating the scale of support offered by <strong>Southampton</strong> faith-based organisations in addition<br />

to the depth of impact as experienced in individuals’ lives, this evaluation employs a mixed<br />

methods approach.<br />

Utilising internal quantitative data from <strong>CLEAR</strong> including attendance reports, engagement information<br />

and financial data ensures a descriptive and objective account of their outputs over the<br />

last 20 years.<br />

Semi-structured interviews were conducted<br />

over six months with clients, learners, volunteers<br />

and community partners from <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

City Council. The interviews with<br />

clients and learners not only confirmed the<br />

challenges found in the literature review, but<br />

demonstrated the impact and difference that<br />

the interventions had in their lives. Including<br />

these voices was imperative in understanding<br />

and evidencing not only the struggles experienced,<br />

but how lives were changed due to the<br />

services provided. It was important to provide<br />

a space to look deeper than descriptive statistics<br />

relating to employment and finances and<br />

discover the often-missed experiences and<br />

impact on mental health and social engagement.<br />

Interviews with volunteers were crucial<br />

in understanding the activities, challenges and<br />

journey involved in providing and maintaining<br />

such support and enables the lessons to be<br />

shared more widely through this evaluation.<br />

Having set out the national context and sought<br />

to develop an understanding of the journey and<br />

challenges faced by people seeking asylum on<br />

their arrival in the UK, this impact evaluation<br />

seeks to determine and describe the specific<br />

outputs achieved through the interventions<br />

carried out by <strong>CLEAR</strong> and a number of organisations<br />

within the <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> network,<br />

the processes and organisational learning that<br />

has enabled these outcomes to have been<br />

reached, and the challenges that impact the<br />

continued delivery of such initiatives.<br />

While there are many agencies involved in<br />

making <strong>Southampton</strong> a welcoming city to<br />

those immigrating to the city, this evaluation<br />

focusses on the evidence and casts light on<br />

the importance of the work carried out by the<br />

faith-based communities by exploring the impacts<br />

both in the lives of individual clients who<br />

had accessed the services, as well as the wider<br />

community partners who have a strategic<br />

stake in the support and provision from a local<br />

infrastructure perspective. The purpose of focussing<br />

on this area is not to be exclusive, but<br />

to help other similar organisations to develop<br />

their programmes and services to better support<br />

and welcome those seeking sanctuary.<br />

Finally, this impact evaluation will seek to assess<br />

the impact and importance of the work<br />

that has been carried out, the difficulties in<br />

sustaining such provision, and the challenges<br />

that refugees and people seeking asylum<br />

continue to face before proposing recommendations<br />

to enable increased reach and scope<br />

in providing life-changing support to individuals<br />

and by these individuals to communities<br />

at large.<br />

The evaluation reviews the role of <strong>CLEAR</strong> and<br />

<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>, an initiative of churches<br />

and charities working together to support<br />

those who are most vulnerable. <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

supports and represents projects and<br />

initiatives that provide help and support to<br />

vulnerable people in <strong>Southampton</strong>. Many of<br />

the initiatives undertaken by those within the<br />

<strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong> network impact the lives of<br />



efugees, including projects that target food<br />

poverty, debt, mental wellbeing and students;<br />

however, this evaluation focusses specifically<br />

on the work undertaken that supports vulnerable<br />

people claiming asylum or refuge in the<br />

UK.<br />

Refugee and asylum seeker<br />

context in <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> is situated on the south coast of<br />

England and is a vibrant and historically significant<br />

city that serves as a major port and<br />

commercial hub.<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong>, designated as a dispersal city<br />

since 2001, continues to play a significant role<br />

in providing accommodation for Home Office<br />

Assisted Asylum seekers. Over the years, the<br />

city has maintained a dispersal system with a<br />

substantial capacity, having over 150 spaces<br />

for individuals seeking asylum. To address the<br />

accommodation needs of asylum seekers, in<br />

2001 <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council allocated 500<br />

beds at any given time through the National<br />

Asylum Seekers Service. In 2004, <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

had around 3,000 refugees granted leave<br />

to remain in the city . However, the nature of<br />

dispersal cities means that individuals can be<br />

relocated with minimal notice, highlighting the<br />

flexibility required in managing the accommodation<br />

of those seeking asylum.<br />

As of the end of June 2023, <strong>Southampton</strong> continues<br />

to provide support to asylum seekers,<br />

with a total of 370 asylum seekers in the city,<br />

an average of 15 asylum seekers per 10,000<br />

population . Compared with other cities <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

is similar to both Plymouth and Bristol<br />

(14 and 15 asylum seekers per 10,000 population),<br />

has more asylum seekers per population<br />

than Brighton (who have 9 asylum seekers per<br />

10,000 population), and has less than Cardiff<br />

and Swansea (38 and 47 respectively) .<br />

Among the 370 asylum seekers in <strong>Southampton</strong>,<br />

169 were accommodated in contingency<br />

housing, such as hotels, while 183 were in dispersed<br />

accommodation. In addition to asylum<br />

seekers <strong>Southampton</strong> has welcomed 185 Afghan<br />

refugees through the Afghan Citizens<br />

Resettlement Scheme, and 229 Ukrainian refugees<br />

through the Homes for Ukraine scheme.<br />

The figures underscore <strong>Southampton</strong>’s commitment<br />

to fulfilling its role as a welcoming<br />

city, adapting to the evolving needs of asylum<br />

seekers. The combination of contingency and<br />

dispersed accommodation reflects the city’s<br />

effort to provide varied and suitable living arrangements<br />

for those seeking asylum within<br />

its borders. <strong>Southampton</strong>’s ongoing involvement<br />

in assisting asylum seekers highlights<br />

its dedication to fostering an environment that<br />

ensures the wellbeing and integration of individuals<br />

in need of sanctuary.<br />



7) What response has there been<br />

in <strong>Southampton</strong>?<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong><br />

City Life Education and Action for Refugees<br />

(<strong>CLEAR</strong>) has been helping people seeking<br />

refuge in <strong>Southampton</strong> for over 20 years.<br />

Launched by City Life Church in 2001 as a response<br />

to <strong>Southampton</strong> becoming a dispersal<br />

city, its office, advice and classroom have always<br />

been located together in central <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

with ground floor access and easily<br />

accessible in the heart of the city.<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> has grown as a charity over this period<br />

and has provided close to 66,000 interventions<br />

engaging with almost 9,500 clients.<br />

This includes almost 40,000 advice sessions,<br />

an estimated 6,000 English language and adult<br />

education classes running between 10 and 42<br />

different courses at any one time, and close to<br />

1,400 people helped through a range of other<br />

programmes including 1-1 mentoring, employment<br />

advice and practical support such as bicycle<br />

schemes.<br />

On average, <strong>CLEAR</strong> has helped 1,038 people<br />

each year since 2001. It has consistently provided<br />

English language classes and advice<br />

services alongside a range of other schemes<br />

providing practical support to help alleviate<br />

some of the hardships faced while aiding integration,<br />

and has demonstrated its commitment<br />

to “empowerment through education and<br />

in practical action”.<br />

Since its creation in 2001 <strong>CLEAR</strong> has generated<br />

income of £4.23 million for the specific<br />

purpose of supporting refugees and asylum<br />

seekers in <strong>Southampton</strong>. It has successfully<br />

bid for grants from the National Lottery and<br />

obtained Trust Funding. It has also won both<br />

national government grants and local partnership<br />

contracts.<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> exists to help those seeking<br />

refuge in <strong>Southampton</strong> to build new<br />

lives in the UK by providing a uniquely<br />

powerful blend of free advice and<br />

practical support to asylum seekers,<br />

refugees and other migrants, and a<br />

wide range of courses in English<br />

language and life in the UK<br />

Number of people helped by <strong>CLEAR</strong> from 2001 to 2022<br />

Number of people<br />

Figure 4<br />




<strong>CLEAR</strong> has provided near to 40,000 advice<br />

sessions over the last 20 years to 9,439 clients.<br />

The advice sessions offer information<br />

and guidance to refugees and people seeking<br />

safety that covers immigration, benefits, housing<br />

and utilities support, help in accessing education,<br />

healthcare, passport applications and<br />

both prevention of and recovery from destitution<br />

. Employment advice is offered to asylum<br />

seekers and EU migrants with pre-settled or<br />

settled status, and includes assistance with<br />

job applications; searching for the right job,<br />

preparing CVs and cover letters, and helping<br />

to complete application forms. <strong>CLEAR</strong>, accredited<br />

with Office of the Immigration Services<br />

Commissioner (OISC) to level 1, provides specialist<br />

and credible support for people seeking<br />

asylum and immigration related advice . Given<br />

the complexity of the application process and<br />

the vulnerability of those applying for asylum<br />

in a new country, having such an accreditation<br />

demonstrates that <strong>CLEAR</strong> is not only deemed<br />

‘fit’ to provide immigration advice services by<br />

the Home Office with a history of honesty and<br />

legal compliance, but also that it is ‘competent’<br />

to do so. <strong>CLEAR</strong> has demonstrated that it can<br />

be trusted to give advice that won’t take advantage<br />

or mislead asylum seekers but enable<br />

applicants to understand the requirements<br />

and entitlements of the asylum system.<br />

The project also holds the Advice Quality<br />

Standard, which provides clients with assurance<br />

that they have met certain criteria that<br />

demonstrate a commitment to quality.<br />

The number of advice sessions compared to<br />

the number of clients shows that many clients<br />

don’t just come for one session only; demonstrating<br />

the support and relationship that has<br />

been built between <strong>CLEAR</strong> and the people<br />

accessing the services as they navigate the<br />

complexity of challenges in re-building their<br />

lives in a new country and community.<br />

Advice is also offered at a weekly drop-in, in<br />

partnership with <strong>Southampton</strong> and Winchester<br />

Visitors Group and Avenue St Andrews<br />

Church. In addition to advice, guests are also<br />

able to get help with English and enjoy food<br />

and friendship with others.<br />

The advice streams provided by <strong>CLEAR</strong> support<br />

both asylum seekers in the process of<br />

making their claim as well as people who have<br />

received their right to remain status. These<br />

specific areas of advice are with the goal of<br />

enabling people to integrate as they gain access<br />

to housing, education, health, and employment<br />

in what Ager and Strang (2008)<br />

describe as “Markers and Means” in their<br />

conceptual framework for understanding integration.<br />

Without such support it would prove<br />

even more challenging for refugees and people<br />

seeking safety in the UK to find economic<br />

independence, to develop skills, and maintain<br />

good health that enables participation and engagement<br />

in society.<br />

Language and cultural knowledge are known<br />

to be key barriers to integration that impact<br />

not only how markers and means (such as<br />

housing, education, health and work) are accessed,<br />

but how communities are formed . Not<br />

being able to speak the host language hinders<br />

social interaction with the host community,<br />

economic integration, and access to essential<br />

services. It is a crucial skill that gives individuals<br />

greater feelings of control and autonomy<br />

over their lives as they more effectively communicate<br />

with doctors, banks, teachers, and<br />

employers.<br />

Understanding local and national culture regarding<br />

procedures and customs impacts how<br />

individuals develop relationships and embed<br />

themselves into society.<br />

Since 2001 <strong>CLEAR</strong> has enrolled 6,030 students<br />

on their English for Speakers of Other Languages<br />

(ESOL) classes. The classes are led by<br />

qualified and experienced ESOL teachers and<br />

are offered at four levels to accommodate varying<br />

levels and abilities, including a pre-entry,<br />

and the most advanced at Entry Level 3.<br />

The ESOL courses run for a period of 32 weeks<br />

and seek to develop students’ speaking, listening,<br />

reading and writing abilities in preparation<br />

for Trinity College London exams, and<br />

progression into higher classes or mainstream<br />

provision.<br />

Currently funded by <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />

and the National Lottery, <strong>CLEAR</strong>’s ESOL classes<br />

are free for asylum seekers. This is particularly<br />

important as asylum seekers already face<br />

financial challenges due to the limited government<br />

support. The funding received sets how<br />

many places are available, and the courses run<br />

by <strong>CLEAR</strong> are often oversubscribed.<br />

The requirements linked to adult education<br />

provision through local authority funding add<br />

another layer of administrative burden on<br />

ESOL providers as they need to demonstrate<br />

compliance with a set curriculum, lesson plans<br />

and preparation for the final tests . While a<br />

level of accountability is important in ensuring<br />

quality provision and teaching that facilitates<br />

learning, it doesn’t always allow sufficient flexibility<br />

to respond to some of the underlying<br />

holistic needs such as confidence building or<br />

bridge building through relationships . This is<br />

one of the reasons why <strong>CLEAR</strong> offer a range of<br />

additional courses to ensure holistic support.<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> exists to help those seeking refuge in <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

to build new lives in the UK by providing a uniquely powerful blend<br />

of free advice and practical support to asylum seekers, refugees and other<br />

migrants, and a wide range of courses in English language and life in the UK<br />

– <strong>CLEAR</strong> Client<br />



(ESOL)<br />



With between 10 and 42 different courses<br />

running over the course of a year and an estimated<br />

6,000 learners over the last 20 years,<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> has proactively helped refugees and<br />

vulnerable groups arriving in <strong>Southampton</strong> develop<br />

both their English language and cultural<br />

knowledge. Given that the ESOL programme<br />

runs over the course of 32 weeks, it can be<br />

estimated that <strong>CLEAR</strong> have provided over<br />

192,000 English language classes.<br />



Providing a holistic service, emphasis on CPD,<br />

trauma informed practice and access to other<br />

services and support are key strengths that<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> demonstrate. They do this by understanding<br />

the needs of the people accessing<br />

their services and responding in turn. This<br />

can be seen through initiatives such as a creche<br />

being run at the same time as some of<br />

the ESOL language classes, enabling women<br />

in particular to participate in courses who<br />

wouldn’t be able to do so otherwise.<br />

Engaging women in this manner not only reduces<br />

the gaps in integration due to being<br />

in a new country, but addresses some of the<br />

discrimination faced by women in countries<br />

where access to and participation in education<br />

and opportunities is severely limited.<br />

The range of additional courses that <strong>CLEAR</strong><br />

offers continues to demonstrate the importance<br />

of access to and participation in classes<br />

that are practical and relevant to life. Numeracy<br />

and ESOL for beginners, a Level 2 customer<br />

service skills course, additional literacy and<br />

digital workshops are just some of the courses<br />

that evidence how <strong>CLEAR</strong> continue to adapt<br />

their provision to enable refugees and asylum<br />

seekers to gain the relevant skills and knowledge<br />

to integrate. <strong>Digital</strong> skills have been recognised<br />

as an additional facilitator of social<br />

connection and integration in the updated version<br />

of Ager and Stang’s integration framework<br />

as the challenges faced are different now as<br />

society continues to develop.<br />


In 2021, City Life Church was awarded a grant<br />

from national government to set up and lead<br />

the Hong Kong Welcome project and develop<br />

a website for Hong Kong British Nationals<br />

(Overseas) relocating to <strong>Southampton</strong> under<br />

the new immigration route which was opened<br />

in response to the national security laws imposed<br />

by the Chinese government . It is estimated<br />

that 1,000 HongKongers have moved to<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> since 2019.<br />

The Hong Kong Welcome reached out<br />

and was a bridge. My life is better<br />

after they reached out, they may not<br />

have discovered, but it had a positive<br />

impact on my mental health<br />

Two-way integration highlights that successful<br />

integration is not possible with work being<br />

carried out by the ‘newcomer’ alone, but is<br />

dependent on both the host community and<br />

incoming people working relationally together<br />

rather than separately influencing one another<br />

from a distance.<br />

The Welcome Programme employed a Cantonese-speaking<br />

outreach worker to facilitate the<br />

bespoke programme and foster trust and relationships<br />

to maximise engagement and participation.<br />

There was also a welcome website<br />

with links to information specific to <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

regarding health, housing, education, careers,<br />

faith groups and local information such<br />

as transport, elections, shopping and leisure<br />

activities.<br />

- A Hong Kong BN(O) part of the Hong Kong Welcome<br />

Partnering with HongKongers in Britain (HKB)<br />

and Citizens Advice <strong>Southampton</strong> (CAS), the<br />

purpose of the project is to welcome Hong<br />

Kong nationals through a range of events<br />

that help new arrivals integrate into the local<br />

community in <strong>Southampton</strong>. The project was<br />

supported by <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council and<br />

a range of community partners and is a commitment<br />

that recognises the role that the host<br />

community has in effective integration.<br />

Councillor Spiros Vassiliou, Cabinet Member for Communities,<br />

Culture and Heritage at <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />

Annual income raised by <strong>CLEAR</strong> from 2001 to 2022<br />

Income raised<br />

Figure 5<br />



In addition to providing useful information to<br />

help navigate life in <strong>Southampton</strong>, the Hong<br />

Kong Welcome Programme created opportunities<br />

for people to come together, experience<br />

and share local culture, and develop community.<br />

Some of the events included tours around<br />

the city, a welcome BBQ in the summer (attended<br />

by over 100 people), a Christmas carol<br />

concert at Winchester Cathedral, multiple<br />

friendship festivals, Hong Kong Art and Film<br />

Exhibition, welcome courses, and specific<br />

seminars on topics such as civic responsibility,<br />

social engagement and how to report hate<br />

crime.<br />

Support from Churches<br />

While City Life’s refugee project, <strong>CLEAR</strong>, has<br />

developed and grown into a charity providing<br />

specialist interventions, other churches have<br />

contributed to integration through a range of<br />

other activities. Through word-of-mouth with<br />

people joining their churches, this decentralised<br />

approach allows local churches to make<br />

a significant impact on the members through<br />

maintaining connections within their congregations.<br />

This more personalised response to<br />

the unique needs of refugees, building relationships<br />

and a network of support that extends<br />

beyond traditional institutional boundaries<br />

of a set lesson plan and curriculum, is one<br />

that exemplifies the role of community.<br />

and are free of charge. This inclusivity seeks to<br />

break down barriers in access and promote a<br />

sense of unity among diverse individuals. The<br />

cafes serve as safe learning spaces, providing<br />

refugees with an opportunity to enhance their<br />

language skills in an environment that prioritises<br />

practical communication over exam-focused<br />

learning.<br />

Learners can engage with the language at their<br />

own pace, fostering a more comfortable and<br />

supportive atmosphere conducive to effective<br />

learning. The emphasis on practical communication<br />

skills ensures that refugees not only<br />

acquire language proficiency, but also gain the<br />

confidence to navigate real-life situations in<br />

their new environment, and gain confidence as<br />

they share their stories and are heard without<br />

it being in relation to an application for health,<br />

housing or as part of the asylum process.<br />

Beyond helping with language acquisition, language<br />

cafes play a crucial role in building social<br />

connections and relationships. Participants in<br />

the cafes often share common experiences,<br />

creating a supportive community where individuals<br />

can relate to each other’s challenges<br />

and successes. The cafes serve as more than<br />

just educational spaces; they become hubs<br />

for social interaction and cultural exchange,<br />

contributing to the broader goal of fostering a<br />

sense of belonging among refugees.<br />

The language cafes, led by volunteers with a<br />

passion for helping people who are vulnerable<br />

and have experienced trauma, provide a place<br />

for pastoral care to take place. It can be hard<br />

for asylum seekers to find care and healing in<br />

a new environment where they still have to relive<br />

their experiences in order to evidence the<br />

validity of their claim.<br />

Language cafes in churches have provided a<br />

space outside of a pressurised environment<br />

where encouragement and hope are shared<br />

and healing and sanctuary can be found.<br />

Church members have helped to provide practical<br />

support as they listen to the needs and<br />

experiences that emerge through the language<br />

cafes. Examples include help in finding<br />

furniture, moving to new accommodation, support<br />

with groceries; acts that really help people<br />

feel cared for and welcomed as they adjust<br />

to a new life.<br />

City Life Church successfully sponsored a<br />

Syrian Family in 2022 through the Home Office<br />

Community Sponsorship Scheme. They<br />

moved from a refugee camp in the Middle East<br />

to settle in <strong>Southampton</strong>. Working with Hope<br />

into Action, a Christian housing project, this<br />

family was housed and another refugee family<br />

who had successfully claimed asylum was also<br />

housed.<br />

Above Bar Church has helped five people find<br />

housing and stay in <strong>Southampton</strong> who otherwise<br />

would have had to uproot their lives and<br />

move to a different city.<br />

For asylum seekers who have sought refuge<br />

on the grounds of religious persecution, the<br />

church community provides not only a place to<br />

develop their skills and receive practical help<br />

and encouragement, but a place to express<br />

their faith supported and surrounded by fellow<br />

believers, finding a place of freedom to share<br />

the faith that at one point had been the cause<br />

of hostility and abuse.<br />

Some churches have gone further still in creating<br />

special services, studies and groups to<br />

help refugees feel included as part of church<br />

life as they live out their faith. By having songs<br />

led in multiple languages, Bible studies translated,<br />

and welcome events, refugees are welcomed<br />

and valued as part of the local Christian<br />

community. Above Bar Church has translated<br />

their baptism course into several languages<br />

and 20 Iranians have been baptised in recent<br />

months. The services were not livestreamed to<br />

minimise the risk to family members if names<br />

and faces were seen on screen.<br />

These initiatives not only contribute to skill<br />

development but, more importantly, foster<br />

a sense of community, understanding, and<br />

shared humanity in the process of rebuilding<br />

lives. Christians have the opportunity to provide<br />

impactful support with very little training.<br />

By giving a helping hand, time to listen, and<br />

opportunities to practice speaking English,<br />

they can see vulnerable groups experience<br />

transformative change in their confidence and<br />

sense of belonging.<br />

– Chris Webb, Minister for discipleship, Above Bar Church<br />

One such initiative implemented by several<br />

churches in <strong>Southampton</strong> involves the establishment<br />

of English language cafes. The language<br />

cafes are available for anyone to attend<br />

English Language Cafe Learner<br />

at Above Bar Church<br />



City of Sanctuary<br />

The City of Sanctuary movement in the UK is<br />

an initiative with the overarching goal of creating<br />

welcoming and inclusive communities for<br />

refugees and asylum seekers by working with<br />

the community itself . The City of Sanctuary<br />

work is built upon the belief and assumption<br />

that facilitating effective integration is not only<br />

down to those arriving in a new community,<br />

but also through the participation and welcome<br />

of the host community. In this collaborative<br />

approach, host communities play a crucial<br />

role in fostering an environment of acceptance<br />

and inclusion, recognising the skills, experiences,<br />

cultural diversity and contribution that<br />

refugees bring to communities.<br />

One of the primary objectives is to encourage<br />

cities, towns and communities across the UK<br />

to declare themselves as places of sanctuary,<br />

committing to building bridges of understanding<br />

and support between newcomers and people<br />

within local communities. These sanctuary<br />

cities aim to challenge stereotypes and dispel<br />

misconceptions about refugees, promoting a<br />

narrative of shared humanity.<br />

Through partnerships with local authorities,<br />

businesses, schools and civil society, the work<br />

of City of Sanctuary seeks to provide practical<br />

assistance, educational opportunities and employment<br />

prospects to refugees.<br />

The <strong>Southampton</strong> City of Sanctuary group,<br />

spearheaded by the late Stephen Press, was<br />

established in 2013 and drove the collaboration<br />

work leading to <strong>Southampton</strong> being recognised<br />

as a City of Sanctuary in 2017, a commitment<br />

publicly supported by <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

City Council. In <strong>Southampton</strong> the goals were<br />

for the local community to learn what it means<br />

to be seeking sanctuary, embed concepts of<br />

welcome, safety and inclusion into city life,<br />

and to share the vision and achievements. The<br />

initiative was community-driven, emphasising<br />

the passions and means of expression of the<br />

people involved. The collaboration among various<br />

champions in organisations and schools<br />

resulted in the creation and implementation of<br />

diverse ideas.<br />

Over 20 schools embraced the City of Sanctuary<br />

ethos, engaging in both teaching and<br />

awareness initiatives while creating resources<br />

to aid learning about sanctuary concepts.<br />

Universities provided accessible courses for<br />

refugees and asylum seekers lacking financial<br />

means, but with the capability to access the<br />

learning. Solent University is now a University<br />

of Sanctuary and the University of <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

is also in the process of accreditation.<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> libraries have also been recognised<br />

as Libraries of Sanctuary.<br />

Driven by the local community in <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

and supported by World Stages Now, a<br />

theatrical stream conducted drama lessons<br />

and training to create theatre pieces on migration-related<br />

themes that were then performed<br />

in the community. Performances were held in<br />

multiple local venues such as the Mayflower<br />

Theatre and schools, followed by workshops<br />

to facilitate learning about migration and asylum.<br />

World Stages Now is a volunteer led community<br />

organisation based in <strong>Southampton</strong>, UK.<br />

Most of the performers, writers, directors, musicians<br />

and dancers are also seeking asylum or<br />

are recently recognised refugees. Since 2013<br />

the group has created and performed several<br />

pieces of original theatre especially for Refu-<br />

gee Week exploring issues that are personal<br />

whilst also celebrating the national theme.<br />

World Stages Now has also performed work at<br />

additional events throughout this year including<br />

International Women’s Day at West Quay in<br />

March and the Now-Here Festival celebrating<br />

the contribution made by the migrant community<br />

at NST Nuffield Theatre in April. World<br />

Stages Now currently has 27 members all of<br />

whom have a refugee or asylum background<br />

and who have given their time freely to be<br />

involved in many activities over the past 10<br />

years raising awareness and supporting other<br />

groups.<br />

Other community-driven approaches have<br />

manifested in practical initiatives, such as the<br />

donation of 16 sewing machines, enabling a<br />

group of women to sew while providing a safe<br />

space for discussions that led to crucial support.<br />

In 2019, the City of Sanctuary <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

secured funding for a mosaic, visually symbolising<br />

the commitment of the council and the<br />

city to transform <strong>Southampton</strong> into a welcoming<br />

City of Sanctuary.<br />

World Stages Now has greatly impacted my life as an individual and the<br />

community as whole. As an individual, World Stages Now has fostered<br />

skills such as communication, engagement, embracing diversity<br />

and listening through theatre.<br />

Member of the World Stages Community<br />





8) The impact<br />

This section seeks to make known the impacts and outcomes of these outputs. These impacts<br />

derive from over 30 semi-structured interviews with a range of clients, learners and community<br />

partners (including civil servants in the welfare state). The outcomes impact both individual lives<br />

and the wider community in the short term, medium term and long term.<br />

Immediate Support:<br />

Practical provision that<br />

impacts positively on<br />

health and wellbeing<br />

Immediate impact comes from the practical<br />

support provided that meets the needs of refugees,<br />

asylum seekers and vulnerable people<br />

as they find themselves without adequate<br />

support. Many of the people interviewed mentioned<br />

how food support, clothes, furniture<br />

and even offers of housing made a huge difference.<br />

Receiving food aid and provisions during<br />

the initial accommodation period was crucial<br />

in addressing challenges posed by the system<br />

regarding hunger and physical wellbeing.<br />

When the support from the government is not<br />

enough to buy sufficient food as well as save<br />

and prepare for a positive response regarding<br />

an asylum claim, and the housing provided was<br />

often uninhabitable, the impact of interventions<br />

and provision during this initial time was<br />

invaluable to those interviewees. Without such<br />

support from the local faith-based communities,<br />

they didn’t know how they would have<br />

survived or provided for their families, but they<br />

also reported not being able to engage in other<br />

activities that led to increased integration.<br />

Without such support they would not have<br />

been able to engage in the activities that lead<br />

to greater opportunities for progression and a<br />

different life in <strong>Southampton</strong>; activities such as<br />

attending English language classes, accessing<br />

healthcare, meeting with their case worker<br />

and even getting help or advice.<br />

The provision of such practical help not only<br />

impacted their physical health, the engagement<br />

with activities in the asylum seeker system<br />

was also a demonstration of their welcome<br />

within the community which had a positive impact<br />

on mental health which then led to further<br />

engagement in community activities and led to<br />

greater feelings of support and safety.<br />

We were told there were some events<br />

happening on Friday in the church, so<br />

we went and saw someone with a<br />

friendly face and they helped us with<br />

food because the money we were given<br />

wasn’t much<br />

We were told there were some events happening on Friday in the church,<br />

so we went and saw someone with a friendly face and they helped us with<br />

food because the money we were given wasn’t much<br />

English language learner at one of the English language cafés<br />

– English language learner at one of the English language cafés<br />

I had no furniture, nothing. Then the<br />

church came and gave me some<br />

furniture and link with the council.<br />

That was 3 years ago now!<br />

- English language café language learner at Above Bar Church<br />



Reducing Social Isolation<br />

Another area of great impact was the spaces<br />

and community created by Christian organisations<br />

as they provided their interventions. This<br />

was an impact experienced by those seeking<br />

asylum, as well as those who had arrived<br />

through the different resettlement schemes.<br />

People may have differing experiences of<br />

housing upon arrival in the UK depending on<br />

whether they have planned host families or<br />

go into dispersal accommodation, but every<br />

new person looking to start a new life in a new<br />

country faces the difficult work of integrating<br />

within a new community. The creation of<br />

community spaces through English language<br />

cafes, welcome events, church services, Bible<br />

studies and a myriad of different interventions<br />

helps individuals make relationships and build<br />

community.<br />

Many of the people interviewed gave an account<br />

of an initial period of feeling completely<br />

isolated, experiencing moments of depression<br />

and high levels of anxiety until they started<br />

attending some of the community groups<br />

or events. One person said how they waited<br />

six months before meeting new people, yet<br />

through the opportunity provided by the Hong<br />

Kong Welcome they saw their experience of<br />

life in the UK shift significantly for the better,<br />

and experienced positive impacts on their<br />

mental health too.<br />

neys as them which added to the encouragement<br />

and healing experienced by being in a<br />

safe place.<br />

The regularity of different events across the<br />

city and within churches provided a level of<br />

rhythm and dependability that boosted the<br />

confidence and hopes of people waiting for<br />

a result of a job application or asylum claim.<br />

Waiting without knowing a certain date for<br />

when a result would come through seemed<br />

endless, but being able to look forward to a<br />

regular event with similar people and start<br />

building relationships gave people hope.<br />

The impact of the community spaces goes<br />

further than uniting people with similar experiences,<br />

it helps to unite and grow the whole<br />

community. Activities such as the Hong Kong<br />

Welcome, BBQ’s, City of Sanctuary events in<br />

schools and in the theatre help to provide a<br />

place to exchange stories, cultures, and link<br />

and form connections within the community.<br />

Through such activities many people interviewed<br />

shared how they felt safer and welcomed<br />

as part of the events by the wider<br />

community. This sharing not only benefits the<br />

people arriving in the UK but helps to change<br />

some of the attitudes held within society and<br />

foster ones of empathy and understanding.<br />

– South East Strategic Partnership for Migration Lead<br />

It is a work that local authorities do not have<br />

the capacity to lead or support as their focus<br />

is much more on the practical support such<br />

as accommodation and finance (which even<br />

then is severely limited). Without the church,<br />

the local community and individuals stepping<br />

in to create safe, supportive places and foster<br />

relationships, these vulnerable people would<br />

remain distant and isolated from the rest of<br />

society.<br />

Advocacy and Signposting<br />

The support work in <strong>Southampton</strong> has not only<br />

had enduring effects on immediate physical<br />

health and creation of community support, but<br />

their initiatives have been instrumental in creating<br />

long-term opportunities that were previously<br />

inaccessible to many asylum seekers<br />

and people arriving in the UK. Through advice<br />

sessions, mentoring programmes, practical<br />

classes and volunteering services, individuals<br />

who may have struggled to develop confidence<br />

and language skills have been equipped<br />

with the tools needed to secure employment,<br />

thereby ensuring long-term job security.<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> advice sessions helped many asylum<br />

seekers understand and prepare for their<br />

claim. One couple shared how without <strong>CLEAR</strong><br />

helping them with their claim the mistakes on<br />

their application form might not have been noticed<br />

and could have slowed down the process<br />

even more.<br />

One lady shared how she was able to get the<br />

training, support and opportunity to volunteer<br />

that led to her getting a job; support that she<br />

previously would not have been given in the<br />

country that she fled from.<br />

By offering guidance, support, and practical<br />

assistance, these initiatives have empowered<br />

individuals to overcome obstacles and achieve<br />

long-term success, thereby transforming lives<br />

and strengthening communities.<br />

Funding and involvement of both the national<br />

and local governments is limited to areas<br />

of practical support such as housing, finance<br />

and ESOL classes, but there is no specific input<br />

into the areas of supporting and restoring<br />

wellbeing.<br />

The events and opportunities for meeting and<br />

gathering were said to have far more profound<br />

an impact than mere entertainment; they were<br />

a platform for sharing, healing and social integration.<br />

Many of the people interviewed mentioned<br />

the sense of peace and healing they<br />

felt being able to meet other people who had<br />

experienced and more fully understood the<br />

experiences they had faced. Beyond having<br />

to share their story in order to legitimise their<br />

asylum case they found comfort being listened<br />

to and heard; and in turn this led to relationships<br />

being formed through which a newfound<br />

confidence then enabled greater participation<br />

in community life. They were also able to receive<br />

practical advice and encouragement<br />

from people who had experienced similar jour-<br />

It gave me something I knew I could<br />

look forward to.<br />

The process was slow and I couldn’t<br />

see the end, so it was long. But<br />

knowing that in the week I had<br />

something on with friendly people<br />

meant that I could hold on<br />

– Learner at an English language café<br />

Without such spaces for people to get together<br />

and be welcomed not only would society be<br />

less safe, but people starting a life in the UK<br />

would not participate as much as they remain<br />

in places of trauma, isolation and brokenness<br />

trying to move forward past oppression.<br />

Ð A Hong Kong BN(O) part of the Hong Kong Welcome<br />



One of the standout themes arising from the<br />

interviews with service partners was the way<br />

that non-statutory organisations were able<br />

to be a voice for vulnerable people groups to<br />

have their experiences and hardships heard.<br />

These organisations, through their proximity to<br />

refugees and asylum seekers, have emerged<br />

as powerful advocates, representing the voices<br />

of those who might otherwise remain unheard<br />

or marginalised. This role as a voice for<br />

the voiceless has immediate and long-term<br />

implications for the communities they serve.<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> was open and helped us to write<br />

CVs, there was another guy who helped<br />

us prepare for the interview which<br />

helped me get my job<br />

– <strong>CLEAR</strong> Client<br />

Initially, by amplifying the experiences and<br />

hardships of vulnerable individuals, these organisations<br />

played a crucial role in providing<br />

support and raising awareness about the conditions<br />

faced by asylum seekers. Through their<br />

advocacy efforts, they shed light on pressing<br />

issues, fostering empathy and understanding<br />

within broader society.<br />

This was particularly true with regards to the<br />

living conditions and housing requirements<br />

that otherwise may have gone unnoticed. Having<br />

a good and trusted relationship with the<br />

council meant that <strong>CLEAR</strong> was able to draw<br />

attention to situations where there was overcrowding<br />

in homes, inadequate water and unsafe<br />

spaces and ask the council to act.<br />

interviewees from the local council shared<br />

how often the voices of <strong>CLEAR</strong> and other organisations<br />

provided the needed evidence<br />

to have conversations with the Home Office<br />

that could only come from people who worked<br />

closely with asylum seekers in temporary accommodation.<br />

Importantly, the depth of involvement exhibited<br />

by church communities sets them apart<br />

from service providers that are transactional<br />

and intermittent in the way they provide their<br />

services. Instead, churches are deeply invested<br />

in the lives of those they serve, actively<br />

walking alongside individuals to meet the gaps<br />

in provision and offering support where institutional<br />

assistance falls short.<br />

A common safeguarding issue reported by<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> was age disputes by people assessed<br />

to be adults but who claimed to be children.<br />

In these cases, with identification documentation<br />

unavailable, the Home Office may assess<br />

someone to be older than they say they are.<br />

This has led to people being kept in accommodation<br />

with other adults which wouldn’t be<br />

suitable if they had been assessed as children.<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> has advocated and been successful in<br />

querying age disputes, leading to people being<br />

given safer, more appropriate accommodation<br />

with the support of social services.<br />

This sustained engagement allows them to<br />

bear witness to the realities faced by refugees<br />

and asylum seekers, informing their advocacy<br />

efforts and ensuring that the voices of the<br />

most vulnerable are not only heard, but that<br />

action can come from their voice being shared.<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> have been very powerful advocate for vulnerable people within<br />

the city and being a place that provides one of the very few places<br />

that can provide support to those people who are in the city<br />

– Executive Director Communities, Culture & Homes 2020-2023<br />

Furthermore, working closely with refugees<br />

allowed local organisations in <strong>Southampton</strong><br />

to advocate for longer-term issues related to<br />

safety, stability and racism within the community.<br />

By sharing real-life experiences, they<br />

catalysed action by local councils and other<br />

stakeholders, adding a trusted voice to tangible<br />

changes in policies and practices aimed<br />

at addressing systemic challenges. One of the<br />

We’re able to help people we wouldn’t<br />

normally come across because of the<br />

trust that the community have with<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong><br />

- Adult Learning Manager for <strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />



9) Conclusions<br />

With an estimated 66,000 interventions over<br />

20 years provided to vulnerable people arriving<br />

in <strong>Southampton</strong> by <strong>CLEAR</strong>, and numerous<br />

unrecorded acts of support and compassion<br />

given by other local organisations, it is clear<br />

that the church and other organisations are<br />

needed to ensure effective and successful integration.<br />

The interventions provided are in response<br />

to the gaps in both national and local provision<br />

and are the outworking of a faith which<br />

calls people to love their neighbours. With<br />

the nations arriving in the UK escaping persecution,<br />

war, corruption and oppression the<br />

community-based actions have the power to<br />

ensure that they do not experience the very<br />

real risk of homelessness, poverty and declining<br />

physical and mental health. The example<br />

seen in <strong>Southampton</strong> shows that Christians, in<br />

particular, don’t have to go on a mission trip<br />

across the world to share the gospel and have<br />

an impact, but can share their faith practically<br />

through volunteering at English language<br />

cafes, mentoring, hosting events within the<br />

community and extending practical support<br />

through provision of food and helping with accommodation.<br />

The analysis of desktop materials, research<br />

papers and over 30 semi-structured interviews<br />

with clients, learners and community partners<br />

has demonstrated the role that is needed both<br />

in providing immediate practical provision, as<br />

well as longer term impact through opening<br />

up opportunities for community relationship<br />

building, and access to education, housing,<br />

health and employment which have a longerterm<br />

impact.<br />

The evaluation shows that the provision of<br />

food, clothing, and accommodation has significant<br />

positive impacts on asylum seekers’<br />

physical health as they undergo the asylum-seeking<br />

process. This support has helped<br />

to alleviate the dire circumstances within<br />

which they are placed, with extremely limited<br />

financial support, and with often cramped, unsafe<br />

and unclean accommodation. The impact<br />

goes beyond just the physical; it also supports<br />

the mental health of people in this immediate<br />

stage as they are able to focus on their application<br />

and take part in activities that will aid<br />

their integration.<br />

Many interviewees highlighted how immediate<br />

support, such as food aid, clothing, furniture<br />

and housing assistance has been essential for<br />

their survival and wellbeing during their initial<br />

accommodation, enabling them to access<br />

other activities crucial for integration, such as<br />

English language classes and healthcare. The<br />

provision of such practical help not only impacted<br />

physical health, but also had positive<br />

effects on mental wellbeing, fostering feelings<br />

of support, safety and community inclusion.<br />

One of the key findings from the interviews<br />

was the way in which interventions such as<br />

advice sessions, ESOL classes, and English<br />

language cafes were able to positively impact<br />

access to opportunities of employment and<br />

health. This has been achieved through various<br />

programmes and practical classes, as individuals<br />

have been equipped with the tools<br />

needed to secure employment and achieve<br />

long-term success. <strong>CLEAR</strong>’s extensive provision<br />

of nearly 66,000 interventions comprising<br />

advice sessions, English language and adult<br />

education classes, reflects the depth of support<br />

provided to almost 9,500 clients. Without<br />

these services many refugees and people<br />

arriving in the UK would find it challenging to<br />

integrate into society and would end up struggling<br />

to secure healthy lives.<br />

Moreover, the free access to these courses for<br />

asylum seekers, funded by <strong>Southampton</strong> City<br />

Council and the National Lottery, has alleviated<br />

financial burdens and enabled individuals<br />

to focus on their integration journey without<br />

financial constraints. <strong>CLEAR</strong> has gone above<br />

and beyond to ensure that barriers to engagement<br />

are removed by minimising costs and<br />

providing creches so that parents with children<br />

can access the courses which has resulted in<br />

high levels of engagement.<br />

Another key finding is that the activities offered<br />

by local organisations don’t just meet<br />

people’s physical and practical needs, but also<br />

address the challenges of isolation and loneliness<br />

within individuals and the community<br />

at large. English language cafes and church<br />

gatherings provided spaces for individuals to<br />

connect, share experiences and foster healing.<br />



They had a great impact in helping combat<br />

loneliness and isolation by connecting people<br />

to their communities and led to feelings of stability,<br />

welcome and safety which had a positive<br />

impact on individuals’ mental health which in<br />

turn led to further participation within community<br />

life. The regularity of these events has<br />

provided a sense of rhythm and dependability<br />

for individuals navigating uncertain circumstances,<br />

offering hope and encouragement in<br />

times of waiting and uncertainty. Without the<br />

church in these safe spaces, many individuals<br />

would not be able to start progressing past<br />

their trauma. The impact of trauma left untreated<br />

has a cost that then prohibits engagement<br />

and growth in their lives.<br />

The interviews with different learners and clients<br />

not only highlighted the prominence of<br />

the work of Christian faith-based groups in<br />

particular, but found spaces such as English<br />

language cafes, welcome events, and cultural<br />

festivals fostered a sense of belonging<br />

and community among those navigating the<br />

complexities of resettlement. The impacts of<br />

these community spaces extend beyond mere<br />

entertainment, serving as platforms for social<br />

integration, support and empowerment. The<br />

benefits of events like this is that they don’t<br />

have to happen as often as weekly, but they do<br />

open access to the whole community. Without<br />

such events communities remain isolated and<br />

alone. When local governments are stretched<br />

financially to the point where they struggle<br />

to meet adequate provision, the opportunity<br />

of bridging the gap between communities<br />

through hospitality lies within the skillset and<br />

mandate of the church.<br />

A key finding from the interviews with community<br />

partners was that faith-based organisations<br />

in <strong>Southampton</strong> have emerged as<br />

powerful advocates, amplifying the voices of<br />

vulnerable individuals, particularly refugees<br />

and asylum seekers, who might otherwise remain<br />

unheard or marginalised. These organisations<br />

are trusted by the local authorities due<br />

to their professionalism and continued commitment<br />

over a long period of time.<br />

Their depth of involvement sets them apart<br />

from more transactional service providers, as<br />

they actively walk alongside individuals, offering<br />

support where institutional assistance falls<br />

short. This proximity has played a crucial role<br />

in raising awareness about pressing issues,<br />

shedding light on living conditions, housing requirements<br />

and longer-term challenges related<br />

to safety, stability and discrimination within<br />

the community, and is seen as a trusted voice<br />

that speaks from evidence and conviction.<br />

By actively listening to the needs of refugees<br />

and responding with practical assistance, the<br />

churches have played a vital role in fostering a<br />

sense of belonging, safety and dignity among<br />

vulnerable people, ultimately facilitating transformative<br />

change and empowering individuals<br />

to rebuild their lives with confidence and resilience.<br />

The findings and outputs of this report have<br />

demonstrated that local organisations are not<br />

only able to impact their communities and<br />

thousands of lives for the better, but that they<br />

are needed in society. The situation seems<br />

bleak and unsalvageable when reliant upon<br />

government input alone; without intervention<br />

from the churches and other local organisations<br />

these risks will continue to mount and<br />

negatively impact the immediate physical<br />

health, mental health and long-term prospects<br />

of people coming to this country.<br />

However, this evaluation of the refugee response<br />

in <strong>Southampton</strong> demonstrates that<br />

there is hope, that faith-based organisations<br />

can make a tangible difference in their communities,<br />

and that if these vulnerable people<br />

groups are to heal through participating in<br />

society the church is needed to fill the gaps.<br />

They are able to step into the gaps of government<br />

provision and lead their communities in<br />

providing support in a range of areas from immediate<br />

support, removing obstacles and barriers<br />

to long term opportunities, creating spaces<br />

of welcome, healing and belonging which<br />

helps shape stable and safe communities, as<br />

well as being a powerful advocate for the experiences<br />

faced by vulnerable groups such as<br />

refugees and asylum seekers.<br />

By sharing these findings, we hope that the<br />

example in <strong>Southampton</strong> acts as an inspiration,<br />

challenge and encouragement for more<br />

people to consider their own communities and<br />

see how they too can provide support. Not<br />

every church will grow a project to the point it<br />

employs a staff team such as the <strong>CLEAR</strong> project,<br />

but every church can step into the immediate<br />

needs, can provide spaces for people to<br />

come and share their stories, receive support<br />

and see their confidence grow and their life<br />

transformed.<br />



10) Recommendations<br />

Establish English language<br />

cafes<br />

English languages cafes are a relatively simple<br />

way of bringing people together in a safe<br />

environment. Not only are learners able to develop<br />

and practice their English language skills<br />

which helps with access to support employment,<br />

education and navigating community life<br />

such as transport and shopping, but they can<br />

act as places of healing, rest and support.<br />

By creating a relaxed environment where learners<br />

can ask questions, share their experiences<br />

and build friendships and foster social connections<br />

you will empower people by boosting<br />

their confidence and self-esteem and enable<br />

them to navigate the tasks and events of daily<br />

life more easily.<br />

It is important to consider what other churches<br />

and organisations may be doing in the locality<br />

to ensure the offer is coordinated and<br />

to avoid duplication. A knowledge of more<br />

formal opportunities is also required so that<br />

learners have the opportunity to further develop<br />

their learning. Resources and training to<br />

support conversation classes has been produced<br />

by Learning & Work – available here:<br />

https://learningandwork.org.uk/resources/<br />

research-and-reports/volunteers-english-language-learners-and-conversation-clubs/<br />

Facilitate opportunities<br />

for building bridges between<br />

host communities<br />

and new arrivals<br />

Creating events such as community BBQs,<br />

games nights, cultural festivals, storytelling<br />

events, seminars and tours, are another great<br />

and relatively simple way of making newcomers<br />

to the community feel welcomed while providing<br />

social connections between people and<br />

developing empathy and understanding from<br />

the host community.<br />

Gathering the community together in this way<br />

helps people seeking asylum and refugees<br />

feel safe and welcomed as they see a physical<br />

demonstration of wanting to connect, learn<br />

and understand. It alleviates feelings of isolation<br />

and loneliness both in the short term and<br />

in the long-term through the forming of relationships.<br />

Additionally, creating these opportunities not<br />

only helps build relationships with refugees,<br />

but can also serve churches in building relationships<br />

with the rest of their communities<br />

too. By intentionally adapting church services<br />

to become more refugee friendly through<br />

special welcome sessions, having elements<br />

(or even whole) services translated into different<br />

languages, and through including different<br />

styles of expression of worship refugees and<br />

migrants will be able to participate more fully<br />

in church life.<br />

Friendship festivals for HongKongers have<br />

been a prime example where over 200 people<br />

from the community regularly gather in <strong>Southampton</strong>,<br />

with the support of local churches, to<br />

create a strong sense of community as well as<br />

integration with the local community.<br />

Provide essential<br />

practical support<br />

during critical stages<br />

This evaluation has highlighted the scale of the<br />

challenges that refugees and asylum seekers<br />

face during the initial stages of the application<br />

process and the months following a right to remain<br />

decision, especially regarding living conditions,<br />

housing, and financial support.<br />

Support can be provided at various levels of<br />

commitment:<br />

• ‘One off’ donations of food, clothing,<br />

furniture and help with attending<br />

appointments<br />

• Hosting families from Ukraine<br />

• Providing continuous support<br />

through the Community Sponsorship<br />

Scheme<br />



By helping with providing long-term or temporary<br />

accommodation either through connecting<br />

with housing providers or hosting within<br />

their homes people can help provide safe and<br />

stable housing. It is important to seek professional<br />

advice before offering accommodation<br />

as it may jeopardise someone’s access to asylum<br />

support.<br />

Providing food aid and clothing churches can<br />

make an immediate tangible difference and<br />

impact asylum seekers and refugees’ physical<br />

health and dignity.<br />

Offering transport assistance for refugees who<br />

may find it hard navigating transport systems in<br />

a new country helps ensure that asylum seekers<br />

and refugees are able, through safely recruited<br />

volunteers or staff members, to access<br />

essential services such as legal appointments,<br />

advice sessions and healthcare appointments.<br />

Creating IT drop-in sessions can fast track the<br />

access to support services such as the NHS,<br />

financial support and school applications for<br />

children, as well providing a space to create<br />

and submit applications for jobs having received<br />

a positive case decision.<br />

Provide training and support<br />

to leaders and teams<br />

Churches of any size can make an impact in<br />

the lives of those most in need in their communities,<br />

however, to ensure that this is sustainable<br />

over the long term it is important that<br />

leaders and teams don’t burn out.<br />

One such way is to partner and volunteer with<br />

a specialist organisation in your area (such as<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> in <strong>Southampton</strong>) and support the ongoing<br />

work. Another is to get specific training<br />

so that you provide accredited immigration advice.<br />

Having more people who are trained and<br />

available to help refugees and asylum seekers<br />

with their claims and understanding the UK<br />

system will increase the chances of people<br />

getting credible help and advice. Additionally,<br />

having formally recognised training provides<br />

an extra level of credibility when advocating for<br />

refugees and asylum seekers.<br />

Offering more holistic support and serving<br />

through pastorally caring for vulnerable people<br />

groups such as refugees means interacting<br />

with traumatic experiences of displacement,<br />

conflict and persecution. These are very specific<br />

and traumatic experiences that have not<br />

commonly been experienced. Therefore, it is<br />

even more important when doing this kind of<br />

work that volunteers and teams are provided<br />

with support and formal supervision where<br />

needed to mitigate the risk of vicarious trauma,<br />

as well as being able to provide the most effective<br />

support, ensuring the wellbeing of both<br />

refugees and volunteers.<br />

Churches should make sure that they lead their<br />

teams well by how they plan their outputs, systems<br />

and routines in relation to the capacity of<br />

their volunteers. Committing to the planning,<br />

organising and running of any intervention<br />

takes time and energy to do well.<br />

Ensure your church<br />

meetings are accessible,<br />

welcoming and appropriate<br />

for people from<br />

all cultures and backgrounds,<br />

not just those<br />

you are most familiar<br />

with<br />

The previous recommendations have related to<br />

activities that aim to aid all refugees and asylum<br />

seekers within the wider community. Yet<br />

with many refugees and asylum seekers joining<br />

local churches it is important that meetings<br />

and services engage and enable participation,<br />

not just attendance and observation.<br />

By offering translation services for the sermon,<br />

readings of scripture, communal songs of<br />

praise and worship, any midweek Bible study<br />

notes and wider communications such as announcements<br />

helps people to understand,<br />

participate, and be included in existing church<br />

practices.<br />

Going beyond and incorporating elements of<br />

diverse cultural practices into the church services<br />

can help attendees feel not only included,<br />

but represented, understood and valued.<br />

This may include incorporating songs, music,<br />

prayers or rituals from various cultural backgrounds,<br />

allowing everyone to celebrate their<br />

heritage within the context of worship.<br />

In the social moments after services where relationships<br />

continue to be built, highlighting a<br />

place or connect point for newcomers and visitors<br />

to the church to be welcomed is a physical<br />

and visible encouragement that they are welcomed.<br />

Churches should consider using this<br />

type of place with trained volunteers (maybe<br />

those who help at English language cafes)<br />

to start building meaningful connections and<br />

links within the church community. To have a<br />

welcoming congregation open to all people<br />

means that existing members cannot just stay<br />

within their groups or cliques but extend an<br />

open arm and invitation to those who may be<br />

different to them.<br />

Train and empower<br />

church members to<br />

welcome, engage with<br />

and support those from<br />

different cultures and<br />

backgrounds<br />

To see the recommendations in this report<br />

taken up and used to make a difference, it is<br />

vital that there is a movement in the hearts<br />

and minds of people. The work must begin<br />

within people which leads to work being done<br />

through them. This is a work of empathy and<br />

compassion, as Jesus himself was moved by<br />

compassion and led by love, so too must we<br />

be. Without understanding the reality of the<br />

experiences of the people coming to the UK<br />

people will not offer the money, food, time or<br />

comfort that is currently experienced in many<br />

of our church traditions.<br />

Therefore, church leaders should seek to provide<br />

spaces and resources for learning about<br />

the experiences and challenges. By learning<br />

and hearing from people’s real experiences<br />

there can grow empathy and understanding<br />

towards refugees and individuals from different<br />

cultural backgrounds. This will also help<br />

overcome any unintentional biases that come<br />

through lack of awareness and hinder how<br />

people are motivated to help.<br />

Further advice on leading successful teams in<br />

churches and in Christian faith-based organisations<br />

can be found in Brown et al (2023).<br />

Useful resources:<br />

Jubilee Plus have produced a series of videos<br />

from UK Christian charities and churches<br />

that take significant leadership in helping local<br />

church communities in creating welcoming and<br />

supportive groups, projects and life-changing<br />

friendships across cultures. These videos are<br />

helpful for those just starting out and to those<br />

who are looking to offer more in-depth help.<br />

Accessible at https://jubilee-plus.org/refugee-training-course/<br />

Guidance on preventing stress and burnout in<br />

churches and Christian faith-based organisations<br />

accessible at www.profkeith.com<br />

Trauma-informed self-access training and<br />

workshop - https://le.ac.uk/cite/sanctuary-seekers-unit/events/trauma-workshop<br />

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible,<br />

New International Version® NIV®<br />

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica,<br />

Inc.<br />

Used with permission. All rights reserved<br />

worldwide.<br />



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asylum seekers: UK Policy. Retrieved from<br />

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parliament.uk/refugees-and-asylum-seekers-uk-policy/<br />

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pdf<br />

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‘integration as a two-way process’. Migration<br />

Studies, 9(3), 902-921.<br />

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backlog achieved mainly through withdrawals<br />

and questionnaires. Free Movement. Re-<br />

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23). statistical bulletine, Long-term international<br />

migration, provisional: year ending<br />

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Watch List Report 2023.<br />

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Hostilities Related to Religion Decline in<br />

2019, While Government Restrictions Remain<br />

at Highest Levels.<br />

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Restrictions on Religion Reach Highest<br />

Level Globally in More Than a Decade.<br />

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Restrictions Affected Religious Groups around<br />

the World in 2020.<br />

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Europe. Immigration and homelessness, 143-<br />

162.<br />

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of destitution among young refugees and<br />

migrants. The Children’s Society.<br />

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Welcome Programme VCSE Grant Recipients<br />

Year 2 (2022-2023). Retrieved from GOV.UK:<br />

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/<br />

hong-kong-bno-welcome-programme-vcsegrant-recipients-year-2-20222023<br />

​<br />

UK Government. (2023, October 17). Afghan<br />

citizens resettlement scheme. Retrieved from<br />

GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/afghan-citizens-resettlement-scheme#full-publication-update-history<br />

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response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.<br />

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uk/government/topical-events/russian-invasion-of-ukraine-uk-government-response/<br />

about#:~:text=The%20UK’s%20non%2Dmilitary%20support,amounts%20to%20<br />

%C2%A39.3%20billion.<br />

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gov.uk/types-of-british-nationality/british-national-overseas<br />

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UK: Asylum. Retrieved from Migration Observatory:<br />

https://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/<br />

resources/briefings/migration-to-the-uk-asylum/<br />

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are crucial for migrant integration, yet challenges<br />

remain unaddressed. Retrieved from<br />

University of South Wales News: https://www.<br />

southwales.ac.uk/news/news-for-2023/esol-classes-are-crucial-for-migrant-integration-yet-challenges-remain-unaddressed/<br />

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on the immigration legal aid market.<br />

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible,<br />

New International Version® NIV®<br />

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica,<br />

Inc.<br />

Used with permission. All rights reserved<br />

worldwide.<br />



Appendix A – Data Gathering<br />

Documents & external data<br />

Internal Data<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong>’s website<br />

<strong>CLEAR</strong> Annual reports (past 20 years)<br />

2017 Independent <strong>Evaluation</strong> Report<br />

Lottery Fund Annual Report<br />

Lottery Fund Mid-Year Report – April 2022<br />

15<br />

9<br />

28<br />

External Data<br />

Academic research papers<br />

Leading charity information<br />

Government publications<br />

Government Publications<br />

Academic Research Papers<br />

Leading Charities<br />

Interviews<br />

Clients and Learners<br />

Community Partners<br />

Charity & Church<br />

Leaders & Volunteers<br />

Total Interviews = 20<br />

6 people from Hong Kong<br />

Welcome<br />

6 people from English language<br />

cafes<br />

8 previous clients from <strong>CLEAR</strong><br />

Total Interviews = 5<br />

Adult Learning Manager at<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Council<br />

Executive Director Communities,<br />

Culture and Homes at<br />

<strong>Southampton</strong> City Council 2020-<br />

2023<br />

SE Migration Lead<br />

Hampshire Police,<br />

Development Officer, Refugee<br />

Resettlement and Asylum<br />

Support at <strong>Southampton</strong> City<br />

Council<br />

Total Interviews = 6<br />

Volunteer lead at English<br />

language café<br />

Project leader at <strong>CLEAR</strong><br />

Volunteer leader at <strong>CLEAR</strong><br />

Church Leader at Above Bar<br />

Church<br />

Volunteer from City of Sanctuary<br />

work<br />

Hong Kong Welcome Support<br />

Worker<br />

Breakdown of interviews<br />

Where were the interviewees<br />

from?<br />

6<br />

5<br />

20<br />

1<br />

1<br />

1<br />

2<br />

6<br />

Hong Kong<br />

Pakistan<br />

Turkey<br />

Afghanistan<br />

Yemen<br />

1<br />

Syria<br />

Clients and Learners<br />

Community Partners<br />

Charity / Church leaders<br />

& Volunteers<br />

1<br />

1<br />

6<br />

Democratic Republic of Congo<br />

Nigeria<br />

Ukraine<br />






“6 months I still felt like a stranger in some places because I hadn’t really engaged in community<br />

beyond the community that spoke the same and dressed the same as me. Then I went to an ESOL<br />

class at <strong>CLEAR</strong> and was able to start going further”<br />

“It wasn’t just good for learning English. It was good for sharing and meeting people in the same<br />

situation”<br />

“We started to meet outside the building and spend time together. We went to the theatre even”<br />

“<strong>CLEAR</strong> started to feel like a family house. We became very close as a group and our teacher and<br />

assistants were very friendly”<br />

“We learnt how we could ask for help and what our rights were”<br />

“After doing the lessons I was able to volunteer and became an assistant teacher translating Arabic<br />

to the refugees from different groups”<br />

“I learnt how to find the shops and shop for food. They helped me look where to set up a bank<br />

account so I could pay for things”<br />

“<strong>CLEAR</strong>’s advisors are life changing. They understand how to help us understand. Paying water<br />

bills, finding GP, helping me fill in forms for school”<br />

“It is so helpful to have everything in one place. I know that if I go there I will be helped”<br />

“The English Class really helped me get a job”<br />

“The location of <strong>CLEAR</strong> is very important. <strong>CLEAR</strong> are visible in the community where there are lots<br />

of refugees and people hurting”<br />

“<strong>CLEAR</strong> is able to support everyone in the community”<br />

“I really struggled with understanding the process for a job. <strong>CLEAR</strong> helped me write my application<br />

and make sure that I was filling in the form. I now have a job”<br />

“I learnt who I could get support from, and even money management I could last longer with”<br />

“There was always someone there to help with lots of my questions and give me advice”<br />

“They helped me register with the NHS and for the dentist and help me with my health”<br />

“Now I’m working as an IT delivery manager with a big company. I can see I’m getting my life back<br />

a little bit and even if I have questions I know I can come and ask <strong>CLEAR</strong>”<br />


“Through the classes we were able to learn more about <strong>Southampton</strong> and knew where to go for<br />

different things”<br />



“I struggled to know where to look for things and where to go. But the tours of the city and the<br />

website really helped and now I feel a lot more confident”<br />

“The main support was through the supporting documents on the website, showing us around<br />

the city and the different workshops – they helped us find where everything was”<br />

“Understanding the GP system. It is so different here to back home and without the Hong Kong<br />

Welcome I would have struggled to understand”<br />

“The board games, coffee mornings and BBQs really helped my mental health and bridge relationships<br />

with people like me and the community”<br />

“Whether it’s participating in local friendship festivals or joining group outings, I’ve formed meaningful<br />

connections that have lifted my spirits and helped me come out and not stay in isolation.”<br />

“We really appreciated the Hong Kong Welcome programme. Especially the group where we could<br />

share information and then connect”<br />

“The programme was really good to know UK society and how to integrate. To know the police if<br />

we came across hate crime”<br />

“Through the programme I got help with special educational needs. I didn’t know where to go but<br />

I found a community now”<br />

“My mother enjoyed the tour of the city so much that I think she even went twice. But now she<br />

can go and do the shopping”<br />


“We learned how to speak to a doctor at a GP and how to use our phone to find it”<br />

“Our group has people from lots of different backgrounds and I could learn about their situations<br />

as well as mine”<br />

“Now I have more belief in myself. I’m not shy to ask people to repeat themselves and to take my<br />

time and answer”<br />

“Sometimes you are scared to ask for help. Other refugees are scared too but this was a safe<br />

place where I can ask without worrying whether I will lose my children or support”<br />

“I found a place where I could talk about my experiences without fear of being misunderstood.<br />

There were people with different stories but similar to me”<br />

“My wife told me there were some events happening on Friday in church. They were happening<br />

every week and gave us involvement and the time to see someone with a friendly face.”<br />

“There’s people I know who can help when I’m struggling with something like finding somewhere<br />

new or understanding where to go for things”<br />

“When I came to the café there were people from the church who helped me with things for my<br />

house. They helped me with the move because I don’t have a car”<br />

“The support that the staff give our community is fantastic. They’re always available, always upbeat,<br />

always proactive and positive”<br />

“It isn’t enough that you just get people on courses. The provision has to be top-notch and <strong>CLEAR</strong><br />

provide just that”<br />

“We learn a lot about everyday life. Things that help us understand British life as well as <strong>Southampton</strong>”<br />


“I think the work that is done in bridging between communities through schemes like the Hong<br />

Kong Welcome is crucial in ensuring safe spaces and community cohesion”<br />

“They play a big part in thinking about things long term. They ensure that people understand the<br />

systems and that they get plugged in”<br />

“<strong>CLEAR</strong> bring tremendous value in bringing people together so that there’s a sense of community<br />

and linking them into mainstream services”<br />

“<strong>CLEAR</strong> go beyond your nuts and bolts of language classes but help overcome issues on community<br />

tension to foster security”<br />

“Every individual I’ve worked with representing <strong>CLEAR</strong> have been pretty impressive. They have<br />

real expertise in working with migrants and refugees and there’s always been a high level of professionalism<br />

in understanding the key aspects involved”<br />

“The team have a level of professionalism about them which means they can cope in really challenging<br />

positions”<br />

“They’re [<strong>CLEAR</strong>] are always coming to the working groups and working partnership with other<br />

organisations”<br />

“We’ve worked with <strong>CLEAR</strong> for a long long time and they’ve always been a strong partner with<br />

us” – Adult Learning Manager SCC<br />

“The reason we started, and continue, to work with them is because they are embedded in their<br />

community. They’ve got really good connections.”<br />

“it’s what <strong>CLEAR</strong> do with the learners, the quality of what they deliver, how well they support the<br />

learners. This is why we keep working with <strong>CLEAR</strong>” – SCC<br />


World Stages Now, provides a safe space not only for refugees, asylum seekers, but anyone<br />

feeling isolated, lonely or depressed. Using theatre, World Stages Now, improves one’s wellbeing<br />

especially now when isolation is rampant. Facilitates creation of positives relationships, especially<br />

for those far away from their loved ones in a new country thus enabling positive integration.<br />

“As a member of World Stages Now, and a refugee I deeply value the impact this group has had<br />

on my life throughout the years.”<br />

“As part of World Stages Now I deeply value the impact World Stages Now has had not only in our<br />

community but to individuals too….for me that’s particularly in fostering skills such as listening,<br />

sharing, and inclusion through theatre”.<br />

“World Stages Now’s commitment in Theatre within Hampshire helped create an atmosphere of<br />

welcome and inviting dialogue which extends to all, including those seeking sanctuary, refugees<br />

and asylum seekers in <strong>Southampton</strong>. This helped a lot in minimising isolation”<br />

“With World Stages Now I learnt to embrace my creativity and I love it!”<br />



Food Poverty and Food Distribution: The role that<br />

faith-based groups have in providing and caring for<br />

their communities.<br />



Jean Hirst is passionate about equipping and<br />

encouraging individuals, teams, and organisations<br />

to see positive change and impact within<br />

their communities. Combining 5 years’ experience<br />

leading and developing teams in the<br />

charity sector and over 10 years’ experience<br />

in public presentation, he engages with a wide<br />

variety of different contexts and settings. Since<br />

completing his Masters degree in Management<br />

Consultancy and Organisational Change, he is<br />

focused on undertaking research that enables<br />

a deeper understanding of some of the<br />

challenges and changes that people face, and<br />

using these insights to co-create solutions for<br />

individuals and organisations.<br />

Professor Keith Brown was the founding Director<br />

of the National Centre for Post Qualifying<br />

Social Work and Professional Practice and<br />

he is an Emeritus Professor at Bournemouth<br />

University where the Social Work department<br />

was ranked number 1 in the UK in the 2020<br />

and 2021 Guardian League Table.<br />

In 2005 he was awarded the Linda Ammon<br />

memorial prize sponsored by the then Department<br />

for Education and Skills awarded to the<br />

individual making the greatest contribution<br />

to education and training in the UK. He was<br />

awarded a Chartered Trading Standard Institute<br />

[CTSI] ’Institutional Hero’ award in 2017<br />

recognising the significance of his research<br />

into financial fraud and scams.<br />

Funded by Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities<br />

With over 1.4 million meals estimated to be distributed across <strong>Southampton</strong> in<br />

a year (equivalent to £5.8 million worth of food) and over 18,700 hours delivered<br />

by volunteers, this report clearly evidences the critical role and successful<br />

collaboration between <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>, faith-based organisations, and local<br />

government to address food poverty throughout the COVID 19 pandemic.<br />

Access the full report at www.profkeith.com<br />

He sits on the DHSC safeguarding advisory board, the joint DHSC and MOJ National Mental Capacity<br />

Leadership forum and the Home Office Joint Financial task force. He has written over 35<br />

text books in the fields of social work and leadership and is particularly known for his contributions<br />

in the areas of Mental Capacity and Leadership. For the past 7 years he has led the National<br />

research into fraud and scams on behalf of the National Trading Standards Scams team and the<br />

Chartered Trading Standards Institute.<br />

Since his retirement from a full time academic post he has been the Independent Chair of the<br />

NHS Safeguarding Adults National Network, the Chair of the Worcestershire Safeguarding Adults<br />

Board and the Chair of <strong>Love</strong> <strong>Southampton</strong>, a body that represents a number of food banks and<br />

4 debt advice centres on behalf of the Churches in <strong>Southampton</strong>. He is also an Ambassador for<br />

‘Faith in Later Life’, a trustee of At A Loss, and a member of Above Bar Church <strong>Southampton</strong>.<br />

Access a range of Professor Keith’s work at www.profkeith.com<br />



Copyright Jean Hirst and Professor Keith Brown<br />


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