Hostile Environments: Immigration and Food Poverty in the UK

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As part of The Food Foundation’s wider project to re-shape the public narrative on food and inequalities, this research was commissioned to focus on families with NRPF and food poverty. The aim of this study was to explore the challenges experienced by families with NRPF in affording and accessing food. Secondly, we sought to understand the role of support services and organisations. Thirteen families with NRPF took part in in-depth semi-structured interviews. Two focus groups were undertaken with six representatives from organisations supporting families with NRPF and 11 organisations took part in in-depth semi-structured interviews. Organisations included front-line, advocacy and campaign groups, such as food banks, community centres and groups providing immigration case support.
The findings from this study indicate that living with NRPF can be characterised as a perpetual indeterminate state of uncertainty, hostility and hardship. This system therefore necessitates the ongoing intervention and support of charities and advocacy groups. The continuous uncertainty and challenges associated with having NRPF mean that diet and healthy eating are compromised due to more urgent priorities, such as inadequate housing, long working hours and/or lack of income. Many families found themselves reliant on food bank parcels, which were often inadequate for their needs.
Support organisations explained how funding cuts to the public sector had dramatically reduced the support they are able to provide for families with NRPF. Some expressed the view that the system was deliberately designed to dissuade people from settling in the UK. This has led organisations to change the type of support they provide. Whilst the pressures of the immigration system and the impact on families varied, the hostility and lack of agency or control over their own lives remained a constant feature and challenge. Key recommendations, as suggested by organisations, are provided.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Hertfordshire
Commissioning bodyThe Food Foundation
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2022


  • Food
  • Poverty
  • Immigration


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