There are barriers to help everywhere you turn
We are EU citizens who have lived in the UK for many years and are working with Crisis as Experts by Experience.
We all came here to live and work, to build our lives and enjoy the opportunities that we all shared as Europeans, and we brought with us skills and high levels of education.
We’ve done jobs as varied as working in industry, working for charities and working in the theatre. One of us has brought up children here. We came with hopes and dreams. We have made the UK our home.
But we also have one other common experience, which is homelessness.
We have all shared those devastating feelings of powerlessness, the loss of control over events, the loss of privacy and dignity that so often accompany homelessness. Between us we’ve known some of the most severe forms of homelessness, rough sleeping, shelters, hostels and sofa-surfing.
We’ve met many others in similar situations, have seen some drawn into alcohol or drug abuse, exploited by unscrupulous employers and other precarious lifestyles.
Because we are all Europeans people often assumed we knew our way round the system, that we knew where to get help when we needed it and that the help was actually available to us. That isn’t the case.
There are barriers to help wherever you turn, whether it be language, lack of knowledge or immigration status.
All of us have the experience of approaching councils, Jobcentres and other services for help and being told that there was nothing that they could do. It was only when we came into contact with organisations like Crisis and other homelessness services that we got any support to enable us to begin to put these experiences behind us and to move forward.
That’s why the report and campaign which Crisis is launching today is so important.
For a start, it tells us that EU nationals are almost twice as likely to experience homelessness as the general population and almost three times as likely to experience rough sleeping.
The scale of the problem is clear. It’s obvious that people like us are not getting the help that we need to prevent homelessness when circumstances put us at risk.
The campaign calls for measures which would mean that no one would be forced to sleep rough, because they would have a safe and stable place to stay if needed.
Crisis' research also found that when EU citizens experience homelessness, some can't get help due to rules which lock them out of housing and homelessness assistance, and employment support.
Crisis is calling for a tailored employment and housing support package for EU citizens whose lives are in the UK but who are locked out of the usual avenues of support.
Providing safe and stable accommodation as part of this package is essential - we know from our own experiences that when you’re worrying about where you’re staying that night and whether you’ll be able to eat, it just isn’t possible to engage properly with support or to find and keep a job.
With the support provided by this programme people would be able to get back into stable employment and a long-term home, getting the advice they need from a dedicated mentor to navigate them through the system and support with language barriers.
We all know what difference that could have made to us and the many others who have been through similar experiences.
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