Charities providing emergency food supplies to people with a limited immigration status known as “no recourse to public funds” have expressed concern at the prime minister’s refusal to offer support to a group pushed into destitution by the lockdown.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the UK have an immigration status that allows them to work here but prevents them from accessing the most benefits should they become unemployed. Many have lost their jobs because of the Covid-19 pandemic and are struggling to feed their families and pay rent; many faces losing their homes once restrictions on evictions are lifted.

In east London, volunteers have been feeding hundreds of families unable to buy food because work has dried up. Lakmini Shah, a Labour councilor in East Ham, where about 57% of the population were born outside the UK, has been distributing boxes of food and essential items donated by businesses to about local 40 families every week since the end of March.

“There’s a perception that immigrants come here to get benefits from the government and that’s not true. These are people who have always worked but who lost their employment as soon as lockdown began, and that’s when their difficulties began,” Shah said, sorting boxes of pasta and rice in her front yard.

“Most people feel too embarrassed to talk about this and they don’t know where to go for help. Everyone is worried about how they are going to pay the rent.”

Source: The Guardian

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