Open Door North East: Providing safe homes for refugees

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Newly recognised refugees have just 28 days to find accommodation before becoming homeless. Open Door North East provides both a safe home and a package of support.

Social Problem

When an asylum seeker is granted refugee status, they’re given less than a month to vacate their temporary accommodation. In some cases, they’re only given a week. Finding an affordable new home to rent in that time would be a challenge for anyone, but refugees face additional barriers. Andy Colclough, Business Development Manager at Open Door North East, explains, “Imagine that you’re in a foreign country – you don’t speak the language fluently; you’re having to navigate the benefit system, probably online; you haven’t got any money so you can’t provide a deposit or a month’s rent in advance; you don’t have references or a credit history – there are just so many barriers to getting a home.”


Open Door North East offers a wide range of support to asylum seekers and refugees, including furnished accommodation for newly recognised refugees. Tenants benefit from a wrap-around package of care from the charity, such as English lessons and help to find work.


Open Door North East borrowed £144,000 from Charity Bank to buy three properties. Between them, the properties will house 12 refugees. Andy says, “I had confidence in Charity Bank as an organisation. I felt, ‘This is a bank I can work with. They care about us as an organisation and about our mission.’”


When someone has the stability of a safe home, they can focus on rebuilding other aspects of their life. John Inglis-Jones, Finance Manager at Open Door North East, shares, “A former service user said to me, ‘If you don't have a house, the only thing you're worrying about is where you're going to sleep that night. Once you have that worry taken away from you, all the other things can fall into place.’”

Owning assets also benefits Open Door North East as an organisation. Andy explains, “Our strategic three-year plan is to own or lease the majority of our housing stock. Owning or leasing properties is better for our financial stability and resilience. It also gives us more flexibility and means we can ensure each property is of a high quality and repairs are made quickly. If we care about the dignity of our service users, then we ought to care about the quality of the accommodation that they're living in.”

“Charity Bank is an ethical bank that wants to do good. It felt like a warmer relationship than we’d have with a normal commercial lender.”

Andy Colclough, Business Development Manager at Open Door North East

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 1280 loans totalling over £500m 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.