THE number of vulnerable refugees suffering extreme poverty has risen sharply in Coventry.
Coventry City Council is recommending its latest funding package for the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC) to help it continue supporting people.
Last year it helped more than 2,100 people and is commissioned by the council to manage the city’s refugee population.
There were more than 1,200 cases of destitution or extreme poverty among those it supported last year, council figures show.
The charity has been a vital lifeline for refugees coming to the city for more than two decades.
It says its aim is to help asylum seekers, refugees and migrants rebuild their lives and make positive contributions to the city.
The majority of the people it supports are young adults aged between 18 and 39.
Nearly a third of these are asylum seekers and over two fifths are categorised as refugees.
The others are either without an immigration status or migrants from the European Union.
The destitution figure has been rising significantly for the last two calendar years – doubling in 2016/17 and increasing by three quarters in 2017/18.
With demand for services increasing, the council is recommending continuing with its yearly grants of nearly £400,000 for the centre.
A report to be brought before cabinet next Tuesday (August 28) states: “Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC) offers vital support to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants across the city.
“The service supports a diverse range of people, many of whom do not speak English and some who have escaped violence and persecution in their own countries.
“The centre aims to prevent homelessness and destitution, helps people make a positive contribution to the city, supports access to employment opportunities and encourages integration.
“With the recent changes in legislation around immigration and the uncertainties of the UK leaving the European Union, challenges faced by refugees and migrants will continue.
“The numbers of destitution cases in the city has already seen a sharp rise.
“With this in mind it is important to keep specialist support services in place preventing pressures which would otherwise would fall onto statutory services.”
The report also recognises Coventry’s role as a designated ‘City of Sanctuary’ with a long history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers.
The report also states how demand is increasing with a rise in appointments and many returning for support with increasingly complex issues.
The centre also provides 39 places of accommodation for people with no money to support themselves.
The centre provided several examples of the issues people faced after making the journey to the city with little or no resources.
The individuals in the case studies have not been named.
One complex case involved a couple who took on employment upon arrival, having four children since their move.
They applied for asylum due to fears their daughters would be subjected to female genital mutilation if they returned to their home country.
The family found itself in severe rent and council tax debts after losing their jobs and their landlord was desperate to evict them.
The centre provided opportunities to volunteer and vital food vouchers and resources to survive through the process.
Another case involved a young man with severe mental health problems and a tendency to self-harm and self-medicate.
He was given support by a mental health crisis team who provided him medication to mitigate his suicidal tendencies.
He was also denied refugee status and is facing destitution – therefore the centre provides him with daily support.
One person came to the centre as a victim of modern slavery. She was destitute and homeless and was taking up residence in the Coventry Peace House – a six-house accommodation cooperative on Stoney Stanton Road.
The centre provided her with the support to name those who submitted her to slavery, to make new friends and volunteer as an interpreter for the charity.