UK Home Office has abandoned asylum-seekers in ex-care home: charities

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Charities have accused the UK Home Office of abandoning 55 asylum-seekers with severe disabilities and life-limiting conditions at a former care home in Essex County after one died.

One resident at the home, an Iranian with restricted mobility caused by a series of strokes, had seen repeated requests from his doctors for a wheelchair to be provided go ignored by the authorities before succumbing to a final, fatal stroke on June 18.

According to The Guardian, the facility is staffed by security guards and reception staff but lacks the trained care workers and nurses it is contractually obliged to supply.

Another resident told the newspaper: “Everybody is suffering in this place. It used to be a care home but now there is no care. We are free to come and go but to me, this place feels like an open prison. We have just been left here and abandoned.”

As many as 77 people are said to be residing at the home, suffering from health conditions including loss of limbs, blindness and mobility issues, with access to wheelchairs limited.

The charity Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant Action was providing support for residents, but said it had run out of funds necessary for the much-needed disability equipment and other essentials for those living there who had fled warzones including Afghanistan and Sudan.

Maria Wilby, operational lead for the charity, said: “It is cruel to stick these vulnerable people here in the middle of nowhere. We are literally watching them fall apart.”

A resident with motor and sensory neuropathies leaving her largely bed bound was on one occasion left on the floor for 14 hours because the subcontracted security and reception staff were not allowed to pick her up as they had not been suitably trained.

The woman said: “I can walk a little if I have help but there is nobody to help me, so I’m confined to my room most of the time. My feet have swollen badly because I’m not moving.”

The Home Office had been warned about the facility’s suitability after it opened in November, with Tendring district council “robustly” expressing concern that it was “unsuitable” for asylum-seekers placed there and the existing community, given pressure on services and deprivation.

A council spokesperson said: “People placed here are vulnerable due to additional care needs, and we’ve been doing what we can in our remit, and the bounds of propriety, to help them.”

A retired National Health Service professional advocating for the asylum-seekers said the cases he was seeing were worse than those he had encountered in his 40-year NHS career, describing treatment of residents as “unpardonable.”

While claiming that it is “committed” to ensuring the safety and well-being of asylum-seekers, a Home Office spokesperson said it neither operated care homes nor commissioned “care.”

The spokesperson added: “It is not within out statutory remit. Asylum accommodation providers are contractually obliged to ensure accommodation is accessible for disabled people and where concerns are raised, we work with providers to ensure they are addressed.”

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