Refugees embarking on their journey to establish new lives in Global North countries often find themselves navigating a convoluted process characterised by limited choices regarding their place of residence. This lack of agency becomes particularly pronounced for asylum seekers, who are vulnerable due to their uncertain legal status but, even those who are granted refugee status, frequently experience relocations at short notice, which can disrupt their newly acquired sense of stability.
Central to the recent changes in UK immigration policy is the rhetoric surrounding ‘safe and legal routes,’ encompassing asylum pathways such as family reunification, community sponsorship, and resettlement schemes. Although these pathways seemingly assure a path to refuge in the UK, the discourse of ‘safe and legal routes’ has served as a justification for the UK’s intensified border control, resulting in restricted access to safe places of living for those in dire need of sanctuary.
Paradoxically, it seems the initiatives advertised to provide secure and stable living environments for refugees have resulted in inherent residential instability. For example, a closer look at specific resettlement schemes, such as the ‘Afghan Citizen Resettlement Scheme,’ ‘Ukraine Family Scheme,’ and ‘Homes for Ukraine,’ shows that, despite the initial promise, these initiatives have faced hurdles concerning longevity, financial viability, social integration, and living conditions.
The dissonance between the intended objectives of these schemes and their actual outcomes raises questions about their effectiveness in ensuring the wellbeing and mental health of those they aim to support. And if they are considering the impact of factors such as place as much as they should.