A charity is running a £60,000 programme to help East-Europeans go back home 20 January 2009 – Homeless charity Thames Reach has receive government financial support to help economic migrants in London to return home.
The charity will run the programme with £60,000 of funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The scheme is the first London-wide programme to help Eastern Europe migrants return to their home countries as the economic downturn increases the risk of foreign workers losing their jobs. Westminster receives £100,000 a year from the DCLG for its scheme, which it runs in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police’s Safer Streets Homelessness Unit. The City of London, Hackney and Hammersmith and Fulham councils run similar schemes.
Four London local authorities already help rough sleepers to travel home. Westminster City Council, for example, helps around 20 people a month.
Westminster Cabinet member for housing Philippa Roe said: ‘We do have a duty to assist vulnerable people and this scheme has allowed us to help those who have said they would like to return home. We are lobbying the embassies to provide more support for their own nationals while they are in the UK and when they return home.’
Westminster rough sleeping teams promote the scheme to homeless people they encounter on the streets. If the Met Police’s homelessness team verifies that they have not already been given a ticket, and if their embassy has refused to help the individual, they will be given a one-way coach ticket.
Westminster officials visited Poland ahead of the EU expansion in 2004 to consider how economic migrants in financial difficulty could be helped. It has assisted 600 people so far. Hammersmith and Fulham council has helped 146 people.
European Union economic migrants have no access to public funds until they can demonstrate that they have worked uninterrupted for one year.
Consequently, many will not have access to hostels or treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, although they can receive primary care services.