The Migrant Destitution Fund (MDF) supports people across Greater Manchester with monthly cash grants of £80 when they find themselves destitute due to their immigration status. Since 2020 they have given out over 2,500 grants totalling £215k to people who have no right to work and no recourse to public funds, benefits, housing or any other formal support. The Fund is administered by volunteers from the Migration and Destitution Action Group (which formed under the Manchester Homelessness Partnership), in partnership with Macc.

Many of the people the Fund supports are experiencing homelessness and have serious mental health needs. Some are elderly; some have young children. Everyone eligible who applies to the fund gets a grant, with the intention to meet their basic needs, ease pressure on their mental health and restore their dignity. Shockingly, the average amount of time that recipients of the fund say they have been destitute is 3 years, with 15% being destitute more than 7 years.

Sadly, MDF ran out of funding in February and had to take the decision to pause grants, removing a valuable lifeline for people with no other source of support. They are currently fundraising and hope to reopen. Read on to find out why the Fund is so important and what you can do to help.

Why does it matter?

The Migrant Destitution Fund helps people in some of the most vulnerable situations in Greater Manchester, facing acute poverty and the Hostile Environment which denies them the safety net meant to protect people. Grants might be spent on fresh, culturally appropriate food, or phone credit to keep in touch with friends or family, or travel to crucial legal or medical appointments. Because there are no strings attached to what the grants are spent on, the Fund provides more than just a sticking plaster: it gives people back some agency in a system that robs it from them. It also gives people headspace to engage with the challenges of destitution: this might mean putting in an immigration application for status that will eventually be a pathway out of destitution.

The Fund also provides crucial connections between organisations. People with insecure or no immigration status are understandably very hesitant to approach services that may be able to help them, fearful of facing immigration enforcement. MDF has a range of referral partners, including GMIAU which means they can connect people. For example, someone may come to MDF through a referral from a small community-based organisation. In looking at their application, MDF may identify a possible route out of destitution. They can then recommend the referral partner links the client in to GMIAU for advice and support in escaping destitution. In this way the Fund provides far more than cash.

Michelle, GMIAU’s Project Worker, said:

The fund was the only hope for those who are destitute and with no means of supporting themselves. They relied on the fund as other avenues of financial support were not available to them. I remember a single mother crying when she was awarded the grant. This was the only support she had received since arriving in the UK with her two dependants.

What can you do to help?

The Migrant Destitution Fund is something that shouldn’t have to exist. We all hope for a future where no one experiences destitution and where no one is denied services or support based on their immigration status. But for now MDF is committed to treating people with dignity in a system which leaves them with so little power. When they reopen, they have plans to improve their model further, including more triaging and formal signposting, and supporting people accessing the Fund to speak out and share their experiences. If you have some spare cash, they’re asking people to donate here. If you can spare time, they’re also looking for more volunteers – if you are interested in volunteering, contact And if you only do one thing you can share this post or their call for donations.