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Pregnancy and Homelessness

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Pregnancy and Homelessness

  1. 1. Managing pregnancy in homeless women Focus on Migrants and the Medical Justice experience Morag Forbes Volunteer Midwife, Medical Justice LNNM Conference, 17th April 2015 Morag Forbes Volunteer Midwife, Medical Justice
  2. 2.  Asylum seekers: - Can apply for housing support from the Home Office. - Usually temporary accomodation (hostel etc), shared house or flat. - No choice of location; usually outside SE England. - Can remain in their accommodation during appeal process, providing appeal is made on time.  Refused asylum seekers: - May be able to receive accommodation under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. - Must show that they are destitute and have taken ‘reasonable steps’ to leave the country (or that they are unfit for travel due to gestation and/or pregnancy complications). - Pregnant refused asylum seekers can also apply to their local authority for support – however may be blocked from doing so depending on details of their immigration history. Legal housing rights 1 Source: Maternity Action
  3. 3.  Refugees: - Can claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit. 28 days to leave Home Office accommodation.  EEA nationals: - Can claim Housing Benefit if habitually resident in the UK with the “right to reside” here. (“Right to reside depends on length of time in UK and employment/education status).  Undocumented migrants: -Not legally entitled to benefits or social housing. -Fear that housing and healthcare providers will alert Immigration authorities. Legal housing rights 2 Source: Maternity Action
  4. 4.  “No recourse to public funds”: - Usually issued to women on spousal visa, work permit or student visa. - Housing provided under homelessness legislation, or funding for a domestic violence refuge place counts as public funds. - A claim for public funds could jeopardise a woman’s leave to remain or lead to an application for indefinite leave to remain being refused. - Possibility of three months’ public funds under the Destitution Domestic Violence Concession to allow survivors of DV to lodge a claim for indefinite leave to remain  Trafficked women: May be granted a ‘recovery period’ in which safe accommodation should be provided (up to one year leave to remain or may claim asylum). Legal housing rights Source: Maternity Action
  5. 5. Medical Justice
  6. 6. My work with Medical Justice 3 Claiming asylum 3 Asylum refused 6 Undocumented September 2013 – March 2015: Twelve women assessed
  7. 7. Accommodation before detention 1 in Home Office Accommodation 4 Staying with family 2 Staying with friends - stable accommodation 2 Private renting 2 NFA 1 Detained on arrival
  8. 8. Accommodation after detention 1 in Home Office Accommodation 3 Staying with family 2 Staying with friends - stable accommodation 2 Private renting 2 NFA 1 Mental Health inpatient
  9. 9. Was the woman in the same accommodation after detention as she was before? Yes No
  10. 10.  Missed antenatal care  Missed antenatal screening - Delayed anomaly scans - Incorrect advice on haemoglobinopathy screening  Deterioration in mental health/delay in mental health support (can affect housing situation)  Delay in assessment and support for additional social needs – safeguarding issues What effects does this have on women’s pregnancies?
  11. 11.  Of the 20 women in the sample, nine were released to different addresses than those they had lived at pre-detention. (Although three were detained on arrival into the UK; one was removed; and one voluntarily returned to her home country). Findings from Expecting Change
  12. 12.  Most women who were released stayed in the address they were released to until after the birth of their child. However, there were some women who moved two to three times following their release, often because they were dispersed to hotel/ hostel temporary accommodation that was time limited.  In one case, the Refugee Council telephoned the relevant Home Office caseowner, expressing concern over a woman who had been told to leave her temporary accommodation at 28 weeks pregnant after just one day, allegedly because her appeal rights were exhausted and had no entitlements. Findings from Expecting Change 2
  13. 13.  The impact of interrupted antenatal care was identifed in one of the MLRs where the doctor wrote: ‘She has been parted from her previous midwife with whom she had a helpful and supportive relationship and received confusing contradictory advice about the treatment of her streptococcal infection.’ Findings from Expecting Change 3
  14. 14.  Upon leaving detention, some women were left to travel alone great distances. One woman in interview recalled the trauma of having to make her way from Bedford to Middlesbrough. ‘When I left the detention centre, I was with all my luggage and they left me at the train station. I had to carry all my luggage with me and had to go all the way to Middlesbrough. I was 7 months pregnant and it was hard. I did not ask anyone to help me because I was so scared. It was very sad.’ Findings from Expecting Change 4
  15. 15.  The law around migrant housing rights is complex and could be very confusing for vulnerable women and those whose first language is not English.  Immigration detention disrupts women’s antenatal care and can disrupt their housing.  This disruption can lead to physical and psychological harm. Summary
  16. 16. expectingchange.pdf dads-scenarios/3-women-from-abroad/ 0Custody_4.pdf Resources