We have welcomed new residents to Colchester in the last week as it is now a dispersal location from the Home Office for Asylum Seekers who are in the National Asylum Support Service (NASS), and are waiting for an Asylum claim to be decided.
There are currently 5 houses occupied in Colchester, each one housing from 3 – 5 residents. There are also a few more houses yet to be filled.
Our 11 new arrivals last week come from 7 different countries.
We are pleased we are here when they arrive, because they are often in need of a lot of support.
The kind of support we provide on those initial appointments varies, but is primarily:
*Help with registering for a GP and in some cases ensuring referrals are made promptly to deal with current complex health issues.
* Speaking with the House managers (who are based elsewhere) because many new arrivals are finding their rooms without curtains and basic furniture, with heating not working properly, or even plumbing issues.
* Explaining how the bin systems and recycling works – (it’s more complicated than you realise when you are not familiar with all the different collections and what goes in which container!)
* Paying for, and installing, Wi-Fi to the houses because – incredibly – the Home Office does not supply any Wi-Fi, even though people are expected to do many things online, and are given less than £40 a week to live on for food and travel expenses, so paying for internet is just not possible.
* Enrolling in college for ESOL (English as a Second Language) lessons, something almost all of them are keen to do.
* Explaining the bus system so they can get around town, and pointing out places of interest they might like to visit.
* Allowing weekly access to our free Foodbank, ‘Food from Home’
* Making sure they have a legal aid solicitor in place to help with their claim, and if not assist them to find one.
* Invite and encourage them to come to our weekly community activities like Gardening, Table Tennis and Football, to ensure they have things to help fill their time in a positive and active way, and a lovely way of making friends within our community.
You can help us support the new arrivals with a donation by clicking here: Refugee Action Colchester | Localgiving