Meet Fiona, one of our destitution advisers who supports people facing some of the harshest circumstances.  

“Destitution advisor.” It’s not a cheery title but it’s accurate. Unfortunately it’s a role that needs to exist. I support people who’ve had a rejected asylum claim and who are usually gathering evidence to make a new claim. 

With no money, no access to benefits, no accommodation and no legal right to work, people are in the very depths of destitution. My job is to bridge the gap, to connect people with charities and services that can help with food, shelter, healthcare, etc., and provide a supportive listening-ear. 

Once a person’s basic needs are met as much as is possible, I can help people to work with their lawyer, to gather evidence so they can get back onto asylum support, and hopefully to rebuild their case and claim their right to asylum, enabling people to move on with their lives.  

A typical day 

My days are really varied. We chat to clients over phones or messages, using interpreters when needed, and try to meet everyone at least once in person or more if they need a friendly face. Emails bounce between lawyers, support organisations, and Home Office contractors, dealing with problems such as with housing and payments. Sometimes what makes the biggest difference for a client is to get a warm jacket, access to English classes or being linked with volunteering opportunities. 

When someone gets a safe bed to sleep in, avoids eviction or gets a regular payment to get food, it’s a win for us. 

My team 

There are four of us in the destitution team and we stay in touch all day whether online or in the office – discussing how to approach cases, debriefing after tricky calls, asking questions and just touching base. My team is one of the best things about my role, I trust them completely and they are friends as well as colleagues. It’s always nice to spend social time with the wider team too, chatting over the desks or going out for a drink. 

Winding down  

Supporting people is often tough so it’s important to switch off. I usually manage to switch off my work phone and laptop and turn my attention to family and friends, chatting to my partner and kids about their days while we get dinner ready.


Find out more about our destitution service.

For confidential advice and information on refugee and asylum issues, call our free helpline 0808 1967 274.

Laura Delaney
Author: Laura Delaney