The situation facing many of our service users is a desperate one. Many are homeless, destitute and have limited access to healthcare. Before Covid-19 hit they were already finding it difficult to do basic things such as find somewhere clean and safe to live, get enough to eat and see a doctor. Coronavirus has complicated the situation further:
- Many asylum seekers do not have access to healthcare. They are more likely to hide symptoms of coronavirus and not present themselves to health care providers because they fear deportation, detention, discrimination, stigmatisation and being targeted by the far right.
- Undocumented migrants, failed asylum seekers and those with no recourse to public funds will also fear presenting themselves to health care providers.
- Asylum seekers may enter the UK through informal routes, using means of transport that are often crowded and unsanitary. We expect migration through less controlled routes to increase and many already need significant support when they arrive.
- Many have previous underlying health issues and are at higher risk as a result.
Government restrictions and policies mean asylum seekers face poverty and destitution. Living on just £37.75 a week, they have little money available to buy food, cleaning products, hand sanitiser or toiletries. Many of the charities that usually help them are closed.
Homelessness and substandard accommodation are a particular problem for our clients during the Covid-19 lockdown.
- They usually live in overcrowded accommodation or are homeless, and are often forced to move around from one location to another.
- Proper social isolation or distancing and good sanitation are almost impossible to achieve for many
- The covid-19 lockdown measures are challenging for nearly all of us; for those already coping with fragile mental states and past trauma they are potentially catastrophic.
Those who do not speak English are less likely to be prepared, and will be unaware of planning operations from Public Health England. They will be less conscious of issues relating to the covid 19 outbreak unless they are able to access the same information in their own language.
We need to evolve our service provision to continue helping people. We are hoping you will be able to support us so we can:
- Help clients access food and toiletries.
- Find those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness somewhere clean and safe to stay.
- Work with our clients to reduce their risk of infection, and ensure they do not pass the virus on if they have it.
- Help those who become ill to access the health services they need.
- Continue helping service users access the government support they are entitled to - something that has become even more challenging following the surge in use of the benefits system.