Poverty-stricken families in Britain have spoken about living in a state of destitution during the coronavirus crisis – totally dependent on food parcels to survive.
Refugees and asylum seekers without any access to state support have told The Independent of their suffering in recent months – as our Help the Hungry appeal partner The Felix Project provides them with emergency supplies.
Hannah*, 27, is more than eight months pregnant and is currently living in a hotel room in London’s Earl’s Court area arranged by the Home Office.
The Eritrean national became homeless when the pandemic came along, no longer able to stay at the home of a friend. She is now waiting on the outcome of a fresh asylum application – leaving her unable to access any benefits.
“It feels very cramped and very noisy in this hotel,” said Hannah. “It’s been such a difficult time – so stressful. I’m relying on the help of the charities for the food I need. I go to a friend’s house to make proper meals with the fresh food I get. It keeps me going.”
Hannah’s solicitor has urged the Home Office to provide somewhere more suitable for her and the baby when she gives birth later this month. “I hope I can get some accommodation of my own soon,” she said.
“I need some support. I just want to be able to take care of my baby properly.”
Hannah has been getting those weekly food parcels from West London Welcome – a support group supplied with fresh produce and canned goods by the food surplus charity The Felix Project.
West London Welcome said foreign students, as well as refugees and asylum seekers, are also falling foul of the government’s no recourse to public funds (NRPF) policy – which prevents some migrants accessing benefits, depending on their immigration status.