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How Prisoners Abroad is tackling the UK’s hidden homelessness crisis

The charity Prisoners Abroad has launched an appeal to help tackle one of UK’s hidden homelessness problems; housing British citizens who have been deported after often decades living abroad.

Every year, hundreds of people are deported back to the UK at the end of their sentence who are at extremely high risk of becoming homeless or destitute and they often arrive home with no money, nowhere to sleep and sometimes no family or friends to call on for help.

The charity has been supporting UK citizens abroad for 40 years, and they say 59% of returnees they support say that without them they would have been forced to beg and steal to survive.

Their crisis service helps them to access accommodation and to welfare benefits, healthcare, specialist training and employment services. A total of 300 people used the service last year, of which 149 had newly returned.

The charity gives the example of Nikol who left the UK when she was 5 years old to move to the USA. In adulthood, she suffered from domestic abuse and drug addiction which led here to a prison sentence for fraud. She was deported to the UK where a Prisoners Abroad support worker met her at the airport and helped her find accommodation.

‘The support from Prisoners Abroad restored me and helped me feel secure again and it is because of them that I am alive. I’ll forever be a part of the charity that imparts no judgement but instead protects people when they need it most,’ she said.

‘I feel like I’m living again now; I’m still hurting but healing takes time. Nadine helped me get access to the healthcare which was so important to me in those first few days on return to the UK and I’m in control of my mental health now rather it being in control of me.’

Donate to their appeal here.

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