Support in hotels - Refugee Council

Support in hotels

Yorkshire and Humberside is the region with the highest percentage of people seeking asylum. Refugee Council works in multiple hotels providing advice and casework support for people seeking asylum.

In 2023, of the 143,377 people waiting to hear about their asylum claims, 97,717 individuals (nearly 70%) have been waiting longer than six months, whereas in 2014 only 13% were waiting this long. Almost 41,000 (almost 30%) have been waiting to hear about their claims between one to three years. Since 2020, people seeking asylum have been increasingly accommodated in temporary hotel accommodation for extended periods of time.

In order for asylum seekers to better respond to the demands of their new environment, and to allow them to take control of the asylum process, we have developed an ESOL curriculum focusing on practical topics, such as using public transport and visiting a GP. Rolling out over Yorkshire and Humberside, this programme is delivered with the assistance of volunteers from the community.

Over 37,000

people seeking asylum have been placed in hotels, often without anyone notifying local authorities or support services.

Our research shows that prolonged, agonising stays in hotel accommodation are  increasingly damaging people’s health and well-being, causing depression and even suicidal thoughts among many including children.

"It is a tense situation for all of us asylum seekers – people have started behaving differently in the hotel. All we talk about is what we’ll do if we are told we are going to Rwanda."

One of the key outcomes of our work in hotels is building relationships to ensure those we work with feel supported during their stay. Since August 2020, we have supported over 2,000 people, working with them to address the underlying issues that cause isolation and loneliness.

We aim to work with people in hotels :

  • To help them understand the asylum decision-making process, offering them peer support in navigating their asylum journey and supporting them to raise issues and concerns.
  • To make referrals for the provision of clothing, shoes and digital inclusion.
  • By delivering information sessions on how to access services in the United Kingdom, such as applying for education and volunteering opportunities, and the different ways to access primary services such as Migrant Help and Statutory Health Services.
  • To enable new connections to the UK through promoting volunteering opportunities, such as participation in conservation events to help protect the environmental areas where they live.
  • By encouraging engagement with the volunteers who deliver well-being sessions. Our volunteers also lead groups visiting different areas in Yorkshire such as parks, countryside, the coast and places of historical significant to introduce different parts of culture in the UK and combat isolation and loneliness.
"The homeland for me is not just the place where you live, study, or work. It's the place where you find real people who prove your worth in life, add positives to your day. People who make you feel that you are not alone, find them with you wherever, and whenever you need them. Big thanks to the Hotel Support Workers for giving me the chance to feel homeland."

The hotels project demonstrates the importance of a partnership approach that promotes networking and skill sharing among the organisations involved in contingency hotel accommodation support, such as third sector organisations, local authorities, accommodation providers and the Home Office.