6 November 2014
Vulnerable asylum seekers are receiving help from the British Red Cross, after being sent to hotels around the UK with little support or information.
We have been giving out essential items and assessing the medical and emotional needs of asylum seekers in hotels in London, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, and near Gatwick.
A temporary home
Around Gatwick, local Red Cross volunteers and staff have supported over 450 asylum seekers, while they wait for more permanent housing.
This group of asylum seekers were first placed in hotels in Bournemouth around a month ago, after space could not be found in accommodation centres.
No medication for a fortnight
The asylum seekers will be registered with GPs once they are placed in longer-term housing – but some people have been on the move for weeks.
Many have significant medical needs.
Among the group is a mother who is 35 weeks pregnant. Another is an elderly woman with Parkinson’s disease and mobility difficulties, who needed a wheelchair loan.
One Syrian asylum seeker with diabetes has not received medication for a fortnight.
Needing nappies and toothpaste
The group have also been running out of essential items.
Although the asylum seekers receive three meals a day, they have no financial support. This means they cannot purchase even basic hygiene products, such as toothpaste and sanitary towels.
We have been supplying these essentials, as well as items such as nappies and formula milk for the families with young children.
Local Red Cross shops and volunteers have also rallied around to deliver clothes, including socks and underwear.
Rhys Cutler, senior services manager for humanitarian action in Kent and Sussex, said: “We must remember that asylum seekers are people who have fled horrifying experiences in their home countries and have a legal right to stay in the UK while the Home Office processes their asylum application.
“In these hotels we discovered a very real humanitarian need and were compelled to respond.”