In light of the recent coverage around plans to place asylum seekers in a hotel in central Ipswich, we have released the following statement. It is important to point out that we play no part in deciding where asylum seekers are housed and we do not believe the use of hotels is ideal. You can read about the experiences of three asylum seekers we work with who are living in hotels here.
It is vitally important that we treat asylum seekers with the compassion they deserve. Those arriving in Ipswich are fleeing brutal conflicts and human rights abuses in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Eritrea and Sudan. They will have experienced horrors that we can only imagine, and many will be separated from their loved ones and facing an uncertain future. More than 75% of asylum seekers are currently granted refugee status – and more than 90% from some countries – so we are talking overwhelmingly about vulnerable people with a genuine need for our protection.
We would always prefer to see people housed in the community, where they can have more independence and a better chance to integrate. We know from our work with asylum seekers that being stuck in hotels for an indefinite period while not allowed to work and receiving almost no financial support leaves people’s lives in limbo and causes further stress and anxiety for people who are already traumatised. But asylum seekers must be given safe accommodation and have their initial support needs met.
Currently, people can be forced to wait years for a decision on their asylum claim. Given the great majority of those arriving in Ipswich will eventually be granted refugee status, we call for more resource to be put into speeding up the decision-making process so people can start to look to the future, find work and move on with their lives.
In the meantime, Ipswich is a Town of Sanctuary with a proud record of welcoming and supporting vulnerable people, and we will continue to work with partners to provide a warm welcome and essential support to refugees and asylum seekers in Suffolk, however they arrive here and whatever their needs.