Life under No Recourse to Public Funds: A Series

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by Caroline Broman, Bristol Refugee Rights’ Member Participation Organiser.

Bristol Refugee Rights (BRR) and The Refugee and Migration Policy Project (RAMP) are working on a project looking to improve support for individuals who are subject to ‘no recourse to public funds’ in Bristol. No recourse to public funds (NRPF) is a condition attached to different immigration statuses. It affects many different people: individuals here on working visas, student visas or spousal visas, families, EU Citizens, Refused Asylum Seekers or any undocumented individuals in the UK.

In essence, it means for that individual or family there is no safety net as they are not able to access mainstream benefits or housing support. Thus if they are homeless or destitute they cannot get support from the local authority or central government. This all changed during Covid-19 with the ‘Everyone In’ policy – a public health response that housed all homeless people irrespective of them being subject to the NRPF condition. In Bristol this highlighted something that BRR has been aware of for a long time: the extent of the issue as the number of Bristolians left destitute by NRPF conditions became evident. It also showed what was possible; with housing provided, BRR and other partner organisations were able to give these individuals the advice and support they needed to change their status: meaning they would not need to be homeless or destitute again.

With the end of the ‘Everyone In’ policy BRR and RAMP are working to influence and advocate to see what long term support we can get in place for those subject to NRPF conditions in Bristol. This project aims to create long term systemic change helping to ensure some of the most vulnerable people don’t fall through the cracks.  In this push we have been working closely with the local council and individuals with lived experience of being subject to NRPF who have shared their stories and their visions for a more supportive Bristol. The following blog series shares with you their stories of life under the NRPF condition and how it has impacted them as well as the hope for what can happen  when support is put in place for Bristolians.