Since November 2019, the Refugee Council has been supporting people seeking asylum who have been placed in hotel accommodation. During 2020, the number of people placed in hotels increased and subsequently this work expanded to cover hotels in Leeds, London, Hull and Rotherham through visiting these sites, as well as supporting people who have contacted the Refugee Council’s telephone Infoline. Since March 2020, the Refugee Council has worked with over 400 individuals in hotels, and has delivered briefing sessions to many more. This experience has informed this report.
Throughout this period Refugee Council staff have been extremely concerned about gaps in support for people, and have often had to step in to provide basics like shoes and coats and make sure that people receive the food they need. People’s mental and physical health has declined, and they have spoken about their feelings of isolation and abandonment. In a pandemic, placing people seeking asylum in self-contained accommodation is sensible to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19, but when these stays extend to months, it is vital that the right support and services are in place to make sure people can live safely and in dignity. However, all too often this has not been the case.