BBC Radio 4 Today Programme: people seeking asylum unable to social distance

By May 5, 2020 May 15th, 2020 Press release

John*, from the Middle East, is like many people seeking asylum in the UK. He is unable to follow Government guidance because of where he has been told to live.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he has been stuck in initial accommodation for the past four months. He should have been moved to more appropriate housing weeks before the Covid lockdown.

In his interview, which you can listen to here from 7.15am, he said people are having to share rooms, sometimes four, sometimes three, sometimes two to a room.

“This is risky,” he said. “In this Covid 19 pandemic my life is at risk. I cannot control their movements. I might bring the infection to them, they might bring it to me.

“We are very scared. Every day we have new people coming. From where we do not know.”

John is not an isolated case. Our asylum crisis teams support many people stuck sharing rooms.

It’s appalling that many people seeking asylum currently find it impossible to follow Government guidance during this pandemic because of where they’re required to live.

The Guardian told the story of Simon, who said he sometimes has to share with two or three other people in a room with only three beds.

In our statement included in this story in the Independent on asylum accommodation, we called on the Home Office must make sure that people can properly self-isolate, socially distance and maintain their personal hygiene in line with vital Government advice.

*Names may have been changed