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Comic shines light on poor housing conditions UK migrants face

Housing conditions that people who migrate are faced with when they first arrive in the UK have been captured in a comic strip as part of a study by academics at Leeds Beckett University.

The comic is largely based on survey data gathered this month from 158 UK migrants to help highlight the inadequate living arrangements many migrants experience.

This study by researchers across LBU found that many migrants reported consistent problems including dirt, broken furniture, isolation, overcrowding and even intimidation from housing providers.

Twenty one percent of participants felt they had to hide aspects of their religion or sexuality and 50% reported that they couldn’t be themselves while living with strangers.

On average migrants had to commute 38 minutes to get to the nearest city centre and 35% of the sample did not feel safe in the area they lived in.

Migrants may be fleeing oppressive regimes, famines and natural disasters, yet when they arrive many are left stranded in limbo between their past and future as they wait to be granted asylum, a process that can be long, demeaning and bureaucratic.

Even though it might be easy to empathise with the struggles felt by those leaving their homeland, it can be difficult to understand the true impact of their ordeal.

It’s something the ‘Home Truths’ project, made into a comic designed by Karrie Fransman, is attempting to remedy by shining a light on the difficulties they encounter to ensure more support is available to UK migrants.

The survey data collected includes the experience of one 26-year-old migrant from Uganda who was left crippled with fear after being housed with ex-convicts while living in Bradford.

Another 23-year old who identified themselves as ‘African' described their living situation as “living in a room, and in a bad area, felt like hell”.

Dr Glen Jankowski, Senior Lecturer in the Leeds School of Social Sciences at LBU, said:

“Young migrants face enormous difficulties getting to the UK and sadly, their difficulties do not always stop when they are here.

“The Stand Up 4 Refugees group of young Leeds-based unaccompanied migrants have been doing their own research and advocacy around migrant issues. We wanted to add our voices to theirs by encouraging people to sign petitions for providers such as MEARS to provide Wi-Fi to asylum seekers or to donate to relevant charities such as Micro Rainbow that provide safe asylum accommodating for LGBT asylum seekers.

“The comic is based on very simple survey findings with UK migrants about their housing conditions when they first arrived in the UK.

“We are also conducting an ongoing photovoice project with young migrants asking them to represent ‘good’, ‘okay’, and ‘poor’ aspects of their homes using photographs.”

Dr Jankowski worked alongside colleagues Caroline Mountain, Lecturer in the Youth Work & Community Development Team, Susan Coan, Research Officer in the School of Health & Community Studies, and Divine Charura, Professor in Psychology, on the wider project to highlight housing issues for UK migrants.

This project was supported by funds from LBU’s Centre for Psychological Research also known as PsyCen.

The aim of the project was to add to previous research by Stand Together ‘4’ Refugees and the charities Migrant Voice and Birmingham Asylum & Refugee Association to further highlight housing experiences of migrants to the UK.

Participants were asked a series of questions about their housing experiences when they first came to the UK. Most of the participants self-defined their ethnicity as Asian, black, mixed or other.

The data showed that 61% of migrants reported no problems with their housing providers and 4% shared positive experiences.

But 22% reported that housing providers didn’t take their concerns seriously and 7% said they were unfairly scrutinised.

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