A West London woman has explained that the Middle East and African refugee crisis is ongoing in the capital with “thousands” still kept in hotels because they have not been found social housing. She said that despite refugees from the likes of Afghanistan taking a back seat in the media recently, many are still being put up in Heathrow hotels and have been there for “months”.
At least 4,000 still use the airport hotels, arriving in England with “barely anything” and having to stay in the hotels indefinitely, Tamzin Doggart said.
She claims that because homes can’t be found for the families, many have spent months living in a shared hotel room with their families. Tamzin, who lives close to Heathrow, has been helping the asylum seekers gain access to essentials such as clothes and toiletries. Despite the Ukraine war Tamzin says the refugees in Heathrow hotels come from different places of origin because Ukrainians have a different refugee process than others from the likes of Afghanistan.
READ MORE: Boy, 8, forced to clean sister in front of other pupils after she soiled herself
Tamzin visits over half a dozen hotels in the Heathrow area, providing refugees with everything from donated stationery to food. She said: “There are still lots of refugees in temporary hotel accommodation, especially around Heathrow. I look after lots of these and have a network of people who try and help those in the hotels. Most recently we provided stationery for children and Eid goody bags.
(Image: Sarah Gardner)
“It’s not the Ukrainian refugees that are in our hotels but asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East. Whilst their asylum applications go through they stay here. Some have been in the hotels so long that they are now going to school in the local area.
“They come over with basically nothing and we provide free materials to help them study and live. We are currently searching for 100 laptops to help children who need computers for school work. Recently there hasn’t been much of a spotlight on these refugees so it’s harder to gain donations.”
The Ukrainian system contrasts with the one for other asylum seekers who have to wait and see if their application will be accepted before being housed. Ukrainians are allowed to come over and start work pretty much straight away.
She continued: “There is a shortage of housing among refugees and now they are all here this has become more slim. School places are contested but most allow for asylum seekers even outside of the catchment area to become students.
“There are even a few hotels which have permanently closed for normal visitors just so they can have a space for refugees only.”
Do you wish to share a story? Contact [email protected]
Want more from MyLondon? Sign up to our daily newsletters for all the latest and greatest from across London here.