Micro Rainbow: safe homes and support for LGBTQI asylum seekers

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Many of the 2,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) persons who claim asylum in the UK every year end up facing discrimination and abuse, even in their shared accommodation.

Micro Rainbow offers a package of support for LGBTQI asylum seekers, including safe housing.

Social Problem

Around 2,000 LGBTQI people claim asylum in the UK every year. They flee from persecution, but often face discrimination, isolation and abuse here in the UK. Many end up being housed in shared accommodation or detention centres with homo/transphobic residents while they wait to find out if they’ve been granted asylum by the Home Office.

Solution

Micro Rainbow offers a holistic package of support for LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees, including peer support groups, employability workshops and safe housing. The average resident stays for seven months. If asylum is granted, Micro Rainbow then helps the refugee to find permanent accommodation and supports them to become employment-ready.

Loan

Charity Bank is lending Micro Rainbow an initial £1.5 million, with six trusts and foundations also agreeing to provide £1.78 million of loans, and one has offered a grant of £125,000. The social enterprise is using the money to buy and convert an extra 25 four-bedroom properties, so it will be able to provide housing for around 300 people every year.

Impact

A home should be a place of refuge, not somewhere you face hatred and violence. Micro Rainbow is giving people that safe place to call home, along with the chance to integrate into society and work towards a better future. The new houses mean that Micro Rainbow will be able to offer safe housing to around 300 people a year in total. Many more will benefit from Micro Rainbow’s other services.

“Charity Bank is interested in the social impact, not just the financial return. They want to make people’s lives better. We have a supportive lender who wants to see us succeed. If there’s an issue, they’ll work with us. It’s not a ‘computer says no’ environment. We have an ally.”

Sebastian Rocca, CEO and founder, Micro Rainbow

Micro Rainbow tenant, Wiam, shares his experience in the short clip below. You can listen to the full story here.

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“I’ve been in the house almost a year and I am still waiting on my Application Registration Card (ARC) and immigration status. I feel helpless because of all the waiting with no certain end in sight. This causes me a lot of anxiety. I can’t sleep because I worry about the future, about when I’ll be able to see my grandma and my mum again.

“Micro Rainbow has helped me enormously. When I first came here, I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is an amazing place.’ The house is new and it’s very beautiful. I have a room, a double bed, a closet. It’s my safe place. When I’m there, I’m very comfortable; when I go out, all I want is to go home.”

A Micro Rainbow tenant

About Charity Bank

Charity Bank is the loans and savings bank owned by and committed to supporting the social sector. Since 2002, we have used our savers’ money to make more than 1,000 loans totalling over £350m to housing, education, social care, community and other social purpose organisations.

Find out more about us here.

Nothing in this article constitutes an invitation to engage in investment activity nor is it advice or a recommendation and professional advice should be taken before any course of action is pursued.