Asylum: Hotels

Home Office written question – answered on 20th December 2021.

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Photo of Claire Hanna Claire Hanna Social Democratic and Labour Party, Belfast South

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what additional facilities and services are in place to meet the needs of asylum seekers accommodated in hotels in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Our accommodation providers in Northern Ireland, Mears, work closely with Local Authorities to ensure asylum seekers are accommodated where shops, hospitals, places of worship and other facilities are within a manageable travelling distance.

The hotel accommodation provided is of a good quality. Asylum seekers receive three meals a day, with staggered mealtimes to cater for social distancing requirements and support meets all the current public health guidelines and our standards. All asylum seekers have access to a 24/7 AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) service provided for the Home Office by Migrant Help. Here asylum seekers can raise any concerns regarding accommodation or support services, and they can get information about how to obtain further support.

The Intercultural Education Service (IES) have developed interim education provision for families in contingency accommodation. They have recruited additional teaching staff, to help with planning and delivering this provision, now named ‘The Welcome Club’. These teachers have been provided with additional training from IES to ensure an appropriate level of awareness around the needs of children within hotel accommodation. The Welcome Club will provide an educational provision for all young people living in hotel accommodation, ensuring a trauma informed and nurturing approach to the deliver.

In addition to the welcome club teachers have been delivering educational activities within the hotels since Mid-November. Families with school aged children are triaged for priority dispersal to enable school registration as soon as possible.

Furthermore, the NI New Entrants Service is triaging the contingency asylum population for health screening and GP registration. The NI Department of Health has recently reinforced the asylum population’s eligible access to GPs, including when in contingency accommodation and the NI British Red cross is assisting vulnerable service users in completing the registration process.

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