This month, I visited the approximately 80 refugees being housed in the Dudley Hotel in Clapham, holding two days’ worth of surgeries there to take down personal details and raise individual cases with the Home Office. Care4Calais have been doing an amazing job supporting refugees across London and immediately jumped into action to support those in the Dudley Hotel.
I wrote to the Mayor of London asking for support in supplying these refugees with oyster cards to allow them access to travel and to the NHS South East London CCG asking for help registering many of the refugees with a GP surgery. In addition, I asked Lambeth Council for assistance in getting the 50 children at the hotel into local schools. Access to school places is vital to enable refugee children to learn English and feel more at home here in the UK. In addition, many of the hotels that refugees are held in do not have play facilities available,
leaving the children with very little to do with their days. I am pleased that we are making some progress towards ensuring that these refugees are getting the support they need.
Unfortunately, the situation in the Dudley Hotel points to wider problems with the UK’s asylum system and treatment of refugees. Of the several cases that have emerged from the hotel, the most pressing concern has been the suitability of their accommodation and the inadequate provision of food to suit their cultural and dietary needs. A substantial number of residents in the hotel are pregnant or are parenting younger children, many of them have raised concerns regarding the inadequate accommodation for their families, and many of them have raised health needs and requirements that have not been met by the hotel provision.
Too often, refugees are housed in poor, unsuitable conditions, or placed in hotels and hostels with very little regard for their health, dietary, cultural and personal needs. The Government must seriously re-evaluate its treatment of refugees who make the perilous journey to the UK and subsequently suffer brutal mistreatment in the hostile environment.
I also encountered issues trying to support people. Hotel management behaved obstructively, first telling us we were not allowed to speak to anyone then forcing us to hold surgeries outside in the rain. I’m not going to let Home Office contractors intimidate me from helping my constituents.