Cover of our 'I don't feel human' reportThe gap between asylum support and mainstream benefits

Our analysis outlined in this briefing has revealed that the asylum support given to children and families can be as little as half of mainstream benefits. The amounts provided are often not enough to provide even the basics like food, nappies or medicines, forcing families to live in extreme poverty for long periods of time.

I don't feel human

Our latest report, I don’t feel human, experiences of destitution among young refugees and migrants, reveals that incredibly vulnerable young people are being left homeless and hungry. They are forced to resort to increasingly desperate means in order to survive. 

Young people who were destitute reported serious illness and mental health problems. Some self-harmed and attempted suicide while others supported by our services have even been forced into sexual relationships in exchange for food or shelter.

Generating parliamentary responses

Based on findings from our reports, the House of Commons Education Select Committee held an oral evidence session on child destitution. The children’s minister, the immigration minister and representatives from our organisation gave evidence to the Committee.

Please watch the hearing, featuring Enver Solomon, Policy Director and Andrew Jolly, Senior Practitioner at our West Midlands Refugee Programme.

West Midlands’ destitution project

Project Managers: Melissa Reddy and Anna Munro

Young girl

In October 2008, we opened a project to support asylum-seeking and refugee families who are destitute in the West Midlands.

An internal review of the project one year later - Destitution amongst asylum-seeking and refugee children - looked into some of the main reasons why families have found themselves destitute and recommended what should be done to address this.

It found that the number of destitute families was increasing. This was often caused by Britain’s chaotic asylum system. This either denied families support or limited them to an amount that is internationally recognised as being inadequate to meet basic human needs.

Living on the edge of despair

Living on the edge of despair: destitution amongst asylum seeking and refugee children is based on a research study we carried out in the West Midlands during 2007.

The findings are stark. We uncovered stories of:

  • children growing up in households without food, heating or toys
  • mothers who felt forced to prostitute themselves to survive
  • young people in care cut off from any help
  • pregnant women who could not afford to eat or access healthcare.


Learn more and take action