ACH and MMB Seminar Series: Housing's role in integration

Housing's role in integration

ACH and MMB Seminar Series: Housing's role in integration

Last week, we hosted our first ACH and MMB Seminar of 2022, continuing our successful series from 2021. In this series, we aim to bridge the gap between research, policy development and lived experience, forging new connections and ways of creating positive system change.

This seminar delved into the intrinsic link between housing and integration for refugee and migrant communities, looking at the housing crisis, and it’s links to barriers to success for refugee and migrant communities.

Keep reading to find out our summary and to watch the full seminar…

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With the housing crisis currently escalating alongside the cost of living crisis, this has never been a more crucial topic for refugee and migrant communities, as well as the wider UK society. At ACH, we know that safe and secure housing is the foundation for building a life in a new country, and is a pillar on which successful integration relies.

The first seminar in our 2022 series of ACH and MMB’s Bridging the Gap Seminars focussed on the link between housing and integration for newly arrived communities. With the housing crisis currently escalating alongside the cost of living crisis, this has never been a more crucial topic for refugee and migrant communities, as well as the wider UK society. At ACH, we know that safe and secure housing is the foundation for building a life in a new country, and is a pillar on which successful integration relies.

We were pleased to be joined by an expert panel, which included:

  • Fuad Mahamed, CEO, ACH
  • Hannah Locke, Best Practice Officer, Homelessness amongst non-UK nationals, Crisis
  • Professor Alex Marsh, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol
  • Chaired by Professor Bridget Anderson, Director of Migration Mobilities Bristol (MMB)
  • Concluded by Ann Singleton, Reader in Migration Policy, University of Bristol

Our first speaker, Professor Alex Marsh from the School for Policy Studies at the University of Bristol, explained the structural factors leading to barriers to safe and secure housing for newly arrived communities. These included the marketisation of housing, a lack of housing supply (specifically affordable housing), an increased demand for housing and the state withdrawal of housing related welfare.

Alex Marsh also took us through some of the narrative framings that contribute to barriers communities face when accessing secure housing such as; the complexity of the system, the stigmatization of social housing and the welfare system and discrimination and migration policies, such as the UK government’s 2016 Right to Rent policy. He then identified an array of new narratives and ideas which could reshape the housing policy landscape, were they to be adopted. These include a focus on wellbeing and housing and making housing a central tenet of government funding, regardless of austerity policies and the wider financial context.

The next speaker was Hannah Locke, Best Practice Officer, Homelessness amongst non-UK nationals at Crisis. Crisis is the national charity for people experiencing homelessness, working to end homelessness in the UK. At ACH, we work with Crisis on the CTI project, working to implement the Critical Time Intervention strategy for our tenants with refugee status. Hannah Locke took us through the different models of housing available for non-UK nationals, from the private rented sector, to supported housing offered by housing associations, to social housing. She discussed how having a roof over your head is not always the end of the story, and prefaced how vitally important it is to find the right type of accommodation to match a person’s needs.

Hannah Locke then spoke about different models of housing that have been tested such as the Migrant Employment Accommodation Scheme run by Croydon Council and Crisis who had the right to work, but No Recourse to Public Funds. This scheme included temporary housing, job-coaching, ESOL classes, volunteering opportunities with the aim of getting tenants into secure work and housing in 18 weeks. After testing this model, Crisis found it worked well along an extended timeline, finding tenants needed longer than 18 weeks to achieve successful outcomes.

Our final speaker was Fuad Mahamed, CEO and founder of ACH. Fuad Mahamed spoke about the ACH model of housing for newly arrived refugees, and how it has been influenced by his own lived experience of arriving to the UK as a refugee. Like Hannah Locke, Fuad spoke about how vital it is to see people as individuals, and that within a wide group, such as people with refugee status, there will be a wide variety of needs and experiences. He spoke about how important an individual and tailored approach is. For instance, refugees arriving via the Homes for Ukraine Scheme will have a vastly different experience to people arriving through the asylum route and coming from NASS accommodation.

ACH’s model of supported housing focusses on seeing residents as people with talent, skills and aspirations, not just as vulnerable people. As a result, ACH delivers support through intensive one-to-one support, tailored upskilling and a focus on social capital.

Next steps

We would like to thank everyone who joined this insightful and timely seminar. Housing remains a crucial topic as the cost of living and housing crisis continues to drive prices, and effect the most vulnerable members of our society disproportionately.

Housing is not a luxury, it is a human right. It is crucial that policy, research and delivery expertise links together to share learning and knowledge about which housing models work, what are the main challenges for refugee and migrant communities accessing safe and secure housing and how policy can drive real change.

Discover more...

Keep up-to-date with the latest news and learnings from the ACH MMB Seminar Series on our website.

Watch the full seminar below.

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