Transitions: A story of refugee lives

Hugh Goldring (Designer), Ed Trueman (Designer), Philip Brown, Santokh Gill, Jamie Halsall, Akosiwa Agbokou (Designer), Jose Garcia (Designer), Kate James (Designer), Sameerah Mahmood (Designer), Tesfalem Yemane (Designer)

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products


This comic is about refugees. Not their experiences of persecution or war, nor the journey to safety and sanctuary. Although these do feature in the stories told. Instead, what is shared here are the experiences of what happens once a person has been given refugee status, where they live and how their life unfolds – in good and bad ways.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) there were 103 million people forcibly displaced across the world as of the middle of 2022; of these, one in three were refugees.

This comic focuses on refugees in the UK where there are two routes to refugee status, through the asylum system or via a government organised resettlement programme. In 2021 there were around nine asylum applications for every 10,000 people living in the UK. Most asylum applications made in the UK are successful. Between 2014 and 2022 nearly 29,000 people were resettled in the UK though organised programmes. The UK is below average compared to European Union states for how many people apply for asylum where the number there is around 14 applications for every 10,000 people.

The settlement of refugees is, at its core, a housing issue. Refugees are faced with the impossible decision to flee from their home, often navigating several places, to arrive in a country with hopes of being provided with security of status and assistance to continue their lives. At the foundation of this promise of refuge is the provision of a safe and secure home. Yet, refugees experience the worst housing of any migrant group.

Disproportionately, refugees live in housing of the poorest quality; housing that can be damp, cold, crowded, unsafe, inaccessible or unsuitable, in states of severe disrepair, and often unaffordable. There are also stark challenges in accessing support, taking up employment, welfare provision, alongside daily experiences of discrimination and racism; all of which are laden on top of a life that has been punctuated by trauma.

Poor housing means poor health; whether this is the quality and conditions of housing, its affordability, the security it offers, how we access it and the way the housing system operates. Combined with the stark challenges of poverty and inequality, the significance of housing is clear. It plays one of, if not the most critical role in shaping our health and wellbeing.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Refugees do not want to live on benefits. Overwhelmingly refugees want to rebuild their lives, they want to work, they want to learn English, they want to be a part of community. They want houses to become homes. By giving space for the stories of how refugees experience housing and home we can meaningfully and powerfully shed light on where change is needed, where help is needed, and where hope and community persist. This comic - and the work of the wider project - takes a step in that direction.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


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