Dana’s story

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When Dana first arrived in the UK, he applied for asylum and was housed by the asylum support system in Liverpool. He got to know some members of the Kurdish community there, but they moved on to Bristol. Dana’s initial asylum claim was refused: he was able to appeal but couldn’t find legal representation to support him in court, so attended the court session alone. He was refused again and his asylum support accommodation and subsidence were stopped.

With no support and nowhere to go, Dana remembered the community he had met who moved to Bristol and followed them here. He was homeless and sleeping in a small tent in Eastville Park. Dana’s mental and physical health were poor – he felt frustrated and upset, and struggled to access the medical care that he needed.

“I tried to contact the Home Office independently while sleeping in the park but was unable to do so without help.”

After some time he was able to find members of the community that he had met in Liverpool and they helped him a bit, sometimes letting him stay on their sofas or giving him money for food. Sometimes a local Kurdish restaurant would let Dana eat for free. The community was truly kind. But even with this limited support times were difficult – Dana was constantly moving around, never sure where he could sleep or what support would be there. He was always in other people’s spaces – relying on their kindness and hospitality.

“I was desperate for a place to live.”

“Thankfully I have managed to get past that difficult time.”

In 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the British Government enacted a policy called ‘Everyone In’: which funded local authorities to temporarily house anyone who was homeless. This policy recognised that being homeless was a public health risk, as it was not possible for homeless people to self-isolate to protect themselves or others from the Covid-19 outbreak. The policy applied to everyone: no matter what their immigration status was. So Dana was housed by Bristol City Council in a hotel.

“It was incomparable to where I was before.”

While in the hotel Dana received £10 per week destitution support from Borderlands, a local charity. The hotel provided food for residents, although Dana struggled to eat it as it wasn’t food he was used to in his culture. He saw a 100% improvement in his health while he was in the hotel. When he was told in the winter of 2021 that the ‘Everyone In’ accommodation was going to end, Dana felt stressed and worried. While being supported in the hotel however, he had been put in touch with Bristol Hospitality Network (BHN) a local charity who provide hosted accommodation for individuals in Dana’s situation, while they work to regularise their status. As ‘Everyone In’ comes to an end, Dana has been given temporary accommodation in a BHN house and receives a £20 per week allowance from them. This means Dana will not have to face homelessness in Bristol again.

“When I heard that the Everyone In accommodation wouldn’t be extended it was stressful. I was worried. But at least for now I get £20 weekly income from BHN and I have temporary accommodation from BHN too which is great.”

Just before being housed in the hotel, Dana had been referred to Bristol Refugee Rights (BRR) by community members. BRR had helped to find a solicitor to work with him to submit a fresh asylum claim. It took Dana and his solicitor over a year to work together to gather the evidence needed to submit a fresh claim. They spent a long time waiting for the Home Office to release Dana’s previous records to the solicitor, and Covid delays also made it more difficult to gather the evidence they needed. In the winter of 2021, Dana and his solicitor finally submitted a fresh claim. This means Dana is now eligible again for accommodation and subsidence payments from asylum support. He is currently working with BRR to gather the evidence needed to apply for the support. Until it is granted, Dana knows he can stay with BHN.