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Women for Refugee Women (WRW), together with its regional partners Women Asylum Seekers Together Manchester, Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group and Women with Hope Birmingham, has today launched important new research on the experiences of women who have been made homeless and hungry after seeking safety in the UK.

The report, Will I Ever Be Safe? Asylum-seeking women made destitute in the UK, explores the experiences of over 100 women from 29 different countries who have been made destitute in the UK after seeking asylum here.

WRW found that:

  • Nearly a third of the women they spoke with had experienced sexual violence both in their countries of origin and again while destitute in the UK.
  • Almost half were street homeless in the UK.
  • 95% were hungry, and the same percentage of women were depressed while they were destitute.

These women were fleeing violence in order to seek asylum in the UK.

  • A third said that they had been raped by state authorities in their countries of origin.
  • A quarter of the women had been targeted because of their political activities; 16% are lesbian or bisexual and had been targeted because of their sexuality.

Over 150 asylum-seeking women, together with over 50 supporters, will come together in Birmingham on Friday 14 February to explore how to build solidarity and advocacy to end destitution.

‘Mary’ a refugee woman who was persecuted by the state in Uganda and now has refugee status, was made destitute and street homeless after her asylum claim was at first refused: “Being homeless made me feel so depressed that I tried to kill myself. I got refugee status in the end, but after so much pain and suffering.”

The report is illustrated by photographs taken by destitute asylum-seeking women.


Women for Refugee Women (WRW) launched its Set Her Free campaign against the detention of women seeking asylum in 2014.  Their new report The Way Ahead: an asylum system without detention sets out what an asylum system that doesn’t rely on detention would look like.  WRW worked with women who have sought asylum and incorporated their views into the report, at the same time as looking at the systems in other countries and what works.

The report also reflects on the reforms won so far in the Set Her Free campaign – such as the time limit on the detention of pregnant women and the Home Office’s rules to stop male officers watching women on suicide watch in Yarl’s Wood – both of which have informed where WRW thinks bigger and bolder changes are needed, as well as what changed after the campaign against child detention, and how the Family Returns Process ensures that kids are now very rarely locked up.

Their vision is set out in their  new report.