Bishop Martyn has written to MPs within Leicester and Leicestershire to share his concerns about the Government’s recent announcement that people seeking asylum in the UK will be moved out of hotels and into former military barracks and possibly disused ferries.
Although Bishop Martyn does not regard hotels as suitable or sustainable accommodation for asylum-seekers, he warns that the risks to their health and wellbeing and their opportunity to be integrated into communities in the UK will be further exacerbated by being housed in isolated military camps.
Bishop Martyn has asked MPs, therefore, to petition the Home Office to focus its resources on improving the productivity within the asylum application process so that people can have their cases decided more quickly, reducing the need for temporary accommodation.
You can read the full text of the letter here.
Kat Gibson, a pioneer minister within the Diocese of Leicester, who has been providing and coordinating pastoral support to asylum-seekers within Leicester, commented: “When asylum-seekers are moved to hotels in cities like Leicester, they get minimal support and signposting. They aren’t allowed to work so have very little means to buy themselves or their children the essentials.
“But over the past couple of years, volunteers from churches across the diocese have been really generous with their time, providing practical support for people staying in the hotels and, just as importantly, spending one-on-one time with them. These relationships and the humanising spaces which churches have created for people seeking asylum – like Art & Soul, hosted by Leicester’s Roots Worshipping Community for creativity, story sharing and cultural exchange – have been a lifeline for people stuck in limbo, cut off from everything that feels familiar.
“That lifeline will be lost, and everything we as Leicester residents have learned and gained from connecting with these folk, if they are moved out of communities and into prison-like camps,” said Kat.
The letter from Bishop Martyn follows on from a recent submission made to the Commission on the Integration of Refugees and his maiden speech in the House of Lords on the principles behind UK asylum and refugee policy.