In the cold months of winter, each of us can appreciate all the more what it means to have a place to live that is safe and warm. It’s something that every human being should have.
The Home Office says it’s providing “safe, comfortable and secure” accommodation to people seeking asylum. This report from the BBC shows the accommodation they’re talking about (See Note 1 below). Please take care when watching this video – some of the content is very distressing.
We worked with the BBC on this investigation for five months. It began when the ceiling collapsed on top of one of our clients in Bradford while she was feeding her one year old baby. Ceiling collapses were already reaching shocking levels, with one toddler in Bradford suffering an open head wound which needed stitches. In London, a ceiling collapsed on a family of six. In Manchester and Birmingham we heard reports of rampant mould, of sewage flooding up through kitchen sinks.
We are grateful for the courage of the people who came forward to share their stories for this report – but we are furious that the Home Office continues to place people in these death traps, and has the audacity to call them ‘comfortable and secure’.
It often happens that without support and advocacy from Refugee Action and other charities, people are ignored. Our Asylum Crisis teams work daily with people to try and get them into accommodation that is actually safe, but the system needs to change. The Anti-Refugee Bill will only make conditions worse, or move people to locations so remote that they’re unable to access the support they need.
We don’t know yet what this year will bring – we’re seeing huge political unrest and watching this Government double down on its hateful rhetoric around people seeking safety. But we are also seeing people coming together to fight for change. We must keep pushing for a system that is fair, just and humane.
We will be in touch in the coming weeks as the Anti-Refugee Bill continues to make progress through Parliament, to let you know what is happening and where our fight is taking us next.
Thank you for being with us.
Note 1 You must be logged into Facebook to watch the BBC report.