Week 3: Housing Experiences of Refugees in Cardiff

This is our final week of #StrongerTogether where we shed a light on poor housing and homelessness that faces refugees once they are granted status. We hear the stories of Ana and Claire, with Ana offering her voice to her words. 

Claire's Story

Claire is a pregnant mother of two, and she tells her story of being accommodated in a hotel, and then an unsuitable flat, with her family of four (and one more on the way!)

Claire and her family were granted asylum after a two year wait, but upon this news they were given 7 days notice to leave their Home Office accommodation. They had no jobs and no savings and were facing homelessness. Emergency accommodation was provided in a hotel. But this posed a problem for Claire’s children. 

"My 7 year old son, Michael, has allergies and the carpet in the hotel room was exacerbating them so much that he was struggling to breathe. It was a scary time. The food provided at the hotel was also not suitable for us, but we still had to pay £357.20 a month out of our allowance for it. It was not an optional charge, even though we could not eat there. We could not cook our own food as we had no facilities. We had to rely on getting meals at Oasis, as we had no budget left to get food elsewhere. There was a waiting list for housing and many other families waiting, and we were really worried about how long we would be there. The flat we eventually moved into also has a carpet that my son is allergic to. We have no idea when we will be able to move to a suitable home. It is really worrying watching your child suffer and being unable to do anything to help. Despite putting in a complaint about the current accommodation, nothing has changed.” 

Claire's situation highlights that:

  • Refugees are not being provided suitable housing.
  • Even a family with young children are housed in one-room facilities with food they cannot eat and their children’s health issues are not taken into account.
  • Being housed in a hotel as part of emergency accommodation is not a holiday. It leads to overcrowding in one-room accommodation, with no cooking facilities, no choice of food, and no adjustments for individual or cultural needs.

With regards to accommodation, the WHQS standards now include the requirement for ‘suitable’ flooring to be provided in all homes upon moving in. This was a campaign that Tai Pawb ran with TPAS Cymru which has now come into law. You can find out about the FLOORED report here. 


Ana was granted refugee status. However, she found herself homeless and unable to secure accommodation without a guarantor. 

"When I was granted refugee status, I was given 10 days to leave my home office accommodation. I had to find somewhere to live on social media, with the £350 I had saved from my financial limitations as an asylum seeker. However, that place wasn’t safe and I felt uncomfortable with the person I was sharing with.

The second place I found was no better. It was just about affordable at £100 per week, but there was no hot water, no heating, and the toilet was a long way. It was a huge, abandoned place and it was just me living there. But I was desperate and had nowhere else to go. I got a job as a supply teacher. But because it’s not a guaranteed income it made it hard to find a place to live, and I had no guarantors or references I could fall back on. I felt I was in a privileged position with a job, but I could still not get a house without a guarantor. The council did eventually help me to find a home that didn’t require a guarantor, but the rent is high and I am paying for all of the bills and expenses myself as I live alone. And my job is supply, so I don’t have a guarantee of how much I will earn each week. Life doesn’t feel affordable. I was essentially homeless, which I find difficult to say. I couldnt meet the requirements to find secure housing. I did not want to file for homelessness, I just kept moving. Landlords are reluctant to rent to those on benefits, and even when we’re not on benefits they want people who can pay an up-front deposit. We start from scratch after getting refugee status. And I am in a luckier place than others I know. I would ask the Welsh Government to change the practice of needing a guarantor or an up-front deposit. As asylum seekers, we don’t know people here, and the allowance we get does not enable us to save for a deposit.

 “Most of us are also still trying to find jobs once we have status, and it takes time to get payslips and proof of income. Most of us are also still trying to find jobs once we have status, and it takes time to get payslips and proof of income."

Resources and support:

  • Read Tai Pawb's Good Practice Briefing on Refugee and Asylum Support and Housing here
  • Tai Pawb's Refugee Housing and Support Feasibility Study available here 
  • Welsh Refugee Council information and resources here

And of course, our partners in this campaign, Oasis and their incredible work in Cardiff. Oasis helps people seeking sanctuary gain access to essential support to thrive in our communities. From a daily lunch and casework support, to arts activities and excursions around Wales, they aim to provide holistic support.

Thrive at Home is a housing support project aimed at assisting refugees in settling into their new homes and seamlessly integrating into their communities. Our initiatives focus on providing essential tenancy support, ensuring refugees have access to crucial services, and fostering a sense of belonging. By facilitating access to various housing resources and support services, Thrive at Home empowers refugees to build stable, fulfilling lives in their new environments.

Read about their 2023 Impact here.Thank you for joining us for this campaign.

A huge thank you to Deena and Zoe at Oasis, and Rob and Jennie at Tai Pawb. And more importantly, we are really thankful to those who shared their housing stories for this campaign. Behind the words are real people who have experienced genuine hardships and traumas. We hope this campaign has opened people's eyes to the situation that people seeking sanctuary are facing with regards to housing, some of the changes we hope will come into place, and has encouraged those who can (social housing providers, private landlords and councils) to do what they can to improve housing accessibility and conditions to prevent these stories from being repeated.