CSAN Member Experiences in Asylum Hotels

The following are some reflections from our members of their experiences in asylum hotels:

In the Diocese of Plymouth, the community banded together to support the newly arrived in a nearby hotel, ensuring they had the essentials – clothes, shoes, bags and phones, as well as extending friendship. The community has wholeheartedly engaged with the newcomers, arranging sporting activities, supper clubs and English language classes.

The Saint Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) is a national charity whose members have been providing practical support in hotels for several years, including ESOL classes and integration support as well as financial support. Their volunteers have noted that the food provided in hotels is wholly inadequate and the support extended is insufficient in assisting with local integration, including the minimal allowance provided which does not cover transport costs and thus leaves them further isolated and increases their reliance on the support of local SVP groups.

Father Hudson’s Care & Brushstrokes Sandwell, located in the Archdiocese of Birmingham have noted a surge in potential unaccompanied minors arriving at hotels, which has raised concerns about the screening process at ports but also about safeguarding young people who are resultantly forced to share rooms with adults. They also supported many individuals who were provided with 7 or less days’ notice of discontinuation of support on receiving a positive decision on their asylum claim and were thus forced into destitution.

Caritas Westminster operates as a network to support projects and volunteers, some of whom are engaged in supporting people placed in asylum hotels, tending to the gaps in provision. The lack of nutrition and quality of food is a big concern and contributes to the deteriorating health of individuals, together with anxiety about being moved away from where they may have made a connection, into barracks. Further, there are many concerns about the hotel maximisation policy which forces individuals to share rooms with individuals who do not share a language, lending to further isolation. However, many health concerns, both mental and physical remain unaddressed as GP appointments are difficult to obtain. CSAN members and voluntary sector organisations across the country are doing the most with the little resources they have, but the asylum accommodation system has been a concern for many years, with many reports of inadequacy and abuse, and the recent move to barracks and barges has further exacerbated the situation.