We were first established as a hosting network aiming to relieve the destitution of asylum seekers whose support and accommodation from the Home Office has been cut off. BIRCH has a growing network of volunteer community hosts who provide short term accommodation to those who have found themselves destitute with nowhere else to go.
Since April 2011 BIRCH hosts have provided over 4200 nights of accommodation to people who would otherwise have been homeless and destitute. Destitution has become a widespread experience for those going through the asylum process. There are an estimated 200,000 asylum seekers in the UK surviving without state support*. Refused asylum seekers are denied the opportunity to work, made homeless, refused healthcare and rely on hand outs to survive.
People in this position who have no other entitlements to public funds are usually completely destitute and often homeless. On top of this, people in this position generally have no access to mainstream provision for the homeless, e.g. hostels, women’s refuges or night shelters.