East European migrants being abandoned on the streets

by Abby Alford, South Wales Echo

MIGRANTS are being left homeless and destitute on the streets of Cardiff after being brought over to work under false pretences, a charity has claimed. A third of those sleeping rough on the streets of Cardiff come from eastern Europe, says the city council.

And because they are excluded from claiming benefits and help with housing, they are left with nothing. Housing charity Shelter Cymru said it has interviewed eastern European economic migrants of Czech and Slovak Roma origin in the capital as part of a project designed to find out why increasing numbers of them are ending up on the streets.

Interviews with migrants, mainly from Poland, have also taken place in Bridgend, as well as in West Wales and North Wales. Shelter Cymru research officer James Radcliffe told the Echo: “Quite a few people are being brought over under false pretences by employment agencies and are being offered accommodation.”

But he said the job they are brought over to do often finishes after a couple of months and the agency will tell them to pack their bags and leave their accommodation. Mr Radcliffe said he has heard of migrants who have nowhere to go being dropped at the nearest train station late at night. But he added: “There are some positive stories of people coming here with nothing and making a success of themselves.”

The study on homelessness among central and eastern European migrants in Wales is being funded by the Big Lottery Research Programme and is being undertaken in partnership with Cardiff and Swansea universities. One of the main reasons for homelessness is that people from countries that joined the European Union after 2004 – including Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic, Poland and Latvia – are not entitled to claim any benefits or apply for housing unless they are a registered worker and can prove they have worked for 12 months continuously.

As the low-paid jobs they are brought to Wales to do – including fruit picking, crop harvesting, labouring and cleaning – last just a couple of months, they often find themselves destitute and forced to survive by begging as they are deemed to have no recourse to public funds. A Cardiff council spokeswoman said: “Thirty-two individuals have been sleeping rough over the last six weeks.

“Of the 32 recorded, 11 have been central or eastern European migrants.
“None has access to public funds, with five having underlying drug and/or alcohol issues – one with serious alcohol-induced health problems. “Of the 11 central or eastern European migrants, four Romanians who slept rough on and off during August have not been to the rough sleeper intervention breakfast run so far in September.
“We do have three migrants who attend the breakfast run who are accommodated in hostels. They also have drug and alcohol issues.”

The Wales TUC is among the bodies campaigning for better protection of migrant workers. Research and campaigns officer Chris Hartwell said: “Addressing language barriers, improving rights awareness, better enforcement of employment rights and robust implementation of the Agency Workers’ Directive are some of the important steps that are needed to better protect vulnerable workers.”

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1 Response to “East European migrants being abandoned on the streets”



  1. 1 East European migrants being abandoned on the streets 168888 Lottery Trackback on September 15, 2009 at 11:17 am

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