Insights into Asylum Hotels and the Ukraine Crisis
FOR OUR 16TH INSIGHT HUB SURVEY WE explored THE ISSUE OF ASYLUM HOTELS AND ASKED PARTICIPANTS TO GIVE US THEIR PERSPECTIVES ON THE ISSUES FACING THE PEOPLE WHO ARE LIVING THERE. WE ALSO ADDED A SECTION ON THE UKRAINE CRISIS IN LIGHT OF UNFOLDING EVENTS IN UKRAINE AND THE RESULTING REFUGEE SITUATION. THIS BULLETIN PRESENTS DATA COLLECTED FROM 56 ORGANISATIONS ACROSS THE UK.
SECTION 1: ASYLUM HOTELS
PEOPLE’S EXPERIENCES IN ASYLUM HOTELS:
- 76% of respondents stated that the people they support do not find asylum hotel accommodation to be safe, habitable, and fit for purpose
- More than 67% of respondents stated that the average length of stay in an asylum hotel was over 6 months
- Key issues identified include deterioration of mental health of people living in hotels, the despair of the process regarding age disputed minors, untrained hotel staff, poor quality food, and reported distress around the dispersal process;
- Top challenges include access to nutritious food, mental health deterioration and social isolation (all at 88%)
ORGANISATIONAL CHALLENGES AND NEEDS:
- The main needs of organisations helping people in hotels are: Clarity and certainty about the future of the accommodation provision; additional funding to provide more support; improved communication and collaboration with the Home Office; more staff / volunteers, and improved communication and collaboration with accommodation providers;
- Staff working in asylum hotels are experiencing very high levels of burnout and stress;
"Lack of mental health support; no trauma informed staff, and prolonged hotel stays are increasing trauma.”
- 56% of organisations have supported /encountered age disputed unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the hotels. This is highlighted as an area of grave concern by many organisations throughout the survey
- 89% of organisations rated the safeguarding mechanisms provided by the Home Office/Private Contractor in the asylum hotel(s) as ineffective/ inefficient – 26% said “extremely poor”
CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS OF ACCOMMODATION PROVIDERS:
- Only 9% of organisations said effective vulnerability assessments are carried out and only 6% said providers were fully engaged
- There was evidence of a disparity in the provision of services depending on refugee country of origin;
“We are constantly frustrated by the lack of communication from the Home Office/ contractors/ local authorities. We had no notice of hotels opening near to us and closure plans are equally un-transparent. This makes planning and allocating resources extremely difficult and compromises the quality of all of our services while we constantly struggle to meet demand”
ACCESS TO LEGAL ADVICE & HEALTHCARE:
- Very limited legal advice available to people in hotels;
- Geographical constraints are also limiting the availability of legal support
ASYLUM SUPPORT PAYMENTS:
- Around 50% of the organisations who responded said they were helping people who had not yet made an application for Section 95 support.
- 75% of organisations reported being aware of delays in the processing of Section 95 applications and decision making
FUNDING AND ADVOCACY & CAMPAIGNS:
- Organisations have very limited funding options with a third only having enough money for three months or less;
- There is strong appetite to collectively campaign on asylum hotels - 58% of organisations are interested to get involved in a national campaign on this issue.
SECTION 2: UKRAINE CRISIS
- 54% of organisations are responding or planning to respond to the Ukraine crisis
- There is a desperate need for capacity and upfront resourcing as major concerns over lack of funding to respond, lack of staff capacity to provide support and/or plan a response, and lack of clarity about safe routes to the UK for Ukrainians;
- Most organisations do not yet know how they will fund their response to the Ukraine crisis - 46% are reallocating internal resources or using internal emergency funding.
- The sector is currently under resourced and overworked due to delays in Afghan resettlement and ongoing wider asylum support but despite this great evidence of organisations wanting to do everything they can;
- Uncertainty about how exactly to respond therefore holding back on applications for emergency funding until needs are clear;
- Concerns raised over the significant need for emotional/ mental health support for incoming refugees
"We are not sure there is the infrastructure in place at present to cope [with refugees from Ukraine] and would hope for more proactive discussions with local authorities and civil society organisations to develop a coherent response that learns from the previous and current failures in the system"
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