Sometimes it’s the little details that clarify the big picture. At Hope Projects we’ve just housed a homeless and destitute woman. She was pregnant. It wasn’t a mistake that she was homeless and destitute.
There’s a human instinct to treat pregnant women carefully. The mother-to-be is vulnerable. Her unborn child is exceptionally vulnerable. Lets stand up on buses so she can have a seat, or at least tut at others who don’t. It would take a heart of stone to do otherwise.
Even the Home office recognise this. Up to a point.
While refused asylum seekers are not entitled to any housing, financial support or right to work (see pretty much every previous blogpost…) Obviously, different rules apply to pregnant women. I mean, you can’t just literally throw a pregnant woman out on the street in a frightening, foriegn country to starve, can you? So the Home Office have a special concession. They will offer housing and £35.39 per week plus an extra £3 per week for, you know, those little treats. If you’re within 6 weeks of your due date.
There must have been a committee that discussed and decided this. I picture bitter arguments between the hardliners arguing for no support or housing for pregnant women and the crazy radicals arguing that, while its obviously OK for a pregnant woman to be street homeless and destitute, say, 10 weeks prior to her due date, at 9 weeks, we should offer her a bed, and some food. In the end they split the difference at 6.
So we have decided that its OK for a pregnant woman to be sleeping on the streets, begging for food or working illegally, being at risk of sexual exploitation 7 weeks before she is due to give birth. Its fine. At 6 weeks we’ll maybe do something. It’s the little details…
I could talk at length about the reasons why refused asylum seekers may not choose to go home. I do in previous blogs and will in subsequent ones. At this point, I really don’t care. If you’re arguing fine points of immigration law and policy while a heavily pregnant woman is finding a suitable shop doorway to doss down in, or a plausible looking stranger to take her in then you have lost your moral compass. You really have.