We were informed recently that the Home Office and a private contractor, Serco, are planning to house up to 14 asylum-seeking families at the former police station in Woodbridge. This will form part of the Home Office’s contracts to house destitute asylum seekers while they await a decision on their asylum claims. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work but receive £39.63 per week in subsistence payments, to cover food, clothing, toiletries and all other essential items.

Suffolk Refugee Support were not involved in this decision, and are receiving no funding to provide support services in Woodbridge. However, as soon as we were informed we began making plans to provide practical support, advice, orientation and a warm welcome to these families when they arrive (as we do with refugee and asylum-seeking families in Ipswich). We will be providing these additional services from our existing, limited resources.

We have already been hugely touched and heartened by the many offers of support we have received from the community. We are working with local groups to provide welcome packs, and building a network of volunteers and community contacts to provide additional support to the families. Together, we are sure we can provide a safe and supportive environment to work with these vulnerable families to rebuild their lives and recover from the trauma of forced displacement.

If you would like to make a donation towards this work, you can do so here.

If you would like to volunteer – for instance, through teaching English to the families – please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Rushel: rmoulton@suffolkrefugee.org.uk

If you would like to talk to us about providing community support – for instance, through offering a venue for English lessons – please contact our Community Liaison Officer, Catherine: ccostello@suffolkrefugee.org.uk

For any other enquiries about the plan to house asylum-seeking families in Woodbridge, please contact Martin: msimmonds@suffolkrefugee.org.uk