Asylum seekers contingency accommodation
In November 2022 it came to our notice that the Home Office had decided to use a hotel in North Devon for asylum seekers. The asylum seekers have now arrived safely at the hotel. Please be mindful that not all of these individuals will understand English and they may have had a very difficult experience before arriving here in North Devon. We would be grateful for your patience and understanding at what will be a worrying and confusing time for them.
We know you will have a lot of questions about this situation, how this happened so quickly and what the council’s involvement is. We have put together a number of responses to some frequently asked questions below which will hopefully help in understanding what’s going on. We will continue to update these.
Home Office decision
Why is a hotel in North Devon being used as accommodation for asylum seekers?
The Home Office has a statutory obligation to provide support including accommodation to homeless asylum seekers whilst their claims are being considered. In recent months, the asylum system has faced significant pressures and it has become necessary to source, and use, additional temporary accommodation, such as hotels to ensure the Home Office can continue to meet its statutory obligations.
Why was there no consultation?
The Home Office has not carried out consultation. They recognise that the local community may have concerns and will work with the local authorities and other partners to understand and address any concerns. They are working closely with the police and other agencies in matters relating to the operation of the sites, security and the ongoing welfare of all concerned.
Will it be fully funded by Central Government?
The Home Office is funding the operation of the hotel, which is designed to meet the basic needs of asylum seekers.
Who is accommodated at the hotel?
This accommodation is being used to accommodate asylum seekers, who comprise a mix of families and single males. These are people who have claimed asylum in the United Kingdom, and whose initial asylum claims will be processed and are under consideration by the Home Office. They are not detained, and so are free to come and go, but are expected to be on site overnight.
How long will the asylum seekers be here for?
It is not yet known how long the hotel will be used for this purpose. No fixed contract has been entered into with the hotel and so the need to use the hotel will be continually assessed.
Is the hotel suitable accommodation?
We have not assessed the hotel as a local authority, and the standard of the accommodation is the responsibility of the accommodation provider. The accommodation is safe, habitable, fit for purpose and correctly equipped in line with existing asylum accommodation standards, contractual requirements and is Covid-19 secure.
What security measures have been put in place?
The hotel has a security presence 24/7. The Home Office and its accommodation provider keep security under review.
What safeguarding measures are in place?
The Home Office accommodation providers, Clear Springs Ready Homes Ltd, are on site to deal with any issues raised by the residents and to ensure that their safeguarding requirements are met.
If Clear Springs Ready Homes Ltd have reasonable grounds to suspect that the safety and wellbeing of asylum seekers, staff, or members of the community are at risk, they will take appropriate action including contacting the police, ambulance or local authority services or making an onward referral to the Home Office safeguarding team.
Are all the needs of the asylum seekers met within the site?
The accommodation is fully catered, and includes options for special dietary, cultural or religious requirements.
All the basic needs of residents will be met on site and entertainment and pastoral support will be arranged by Clear Springs Ready Homes Ltd.
All asylum seekers have access to a 24/7 AIRE (Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility) service provided for the Home Office by Migrant Help where they can raise any concerns regarding accommodation or support services.
What steps have been taken to ensure sufficient fire services cover at the hotel?
A full risk assessment has been undertaken by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.
Will the asylum seekers have been Covid-19 tested and quarantined?
Asylum seekers will be given relevant information relating to testing, and isolation periods should this become necessary.
Management of asylum seekers in the community
What is the maximum capacity of the hotel?
At present the hotel is housing approximately 150 people. The capacity will depend on the demographic make up of the asylum seekers.
Will the asylum seekers be able to leave the hotel?
The asylum seekers are not imprisoned and so can leave the site freely. There is a signing in and signing out register. They are required to stay overnight at the hotel. Welfare calls are made if residents have not returned by 10pm.
Is there a curfew in place?
There is no curfew in place. There is a signing in and signing out register. Residents are required to stay overnight at the hotel and welfare calls are made if they have not returned by 10pm.
What happens if an asylum seeker does not return to the hotel?
The asylum seekers are not detained. Clear Springs Ready Homes Ltd staff will take the necessary steps to ensure people return to their accommodation. If anyone unaccountably goes missing then a missing person’s process is initiated.
Is it just young males being housed at the hotel?
No, there is currently a mix of males and family groups.
What information are the asylum seekers provided with upon arrival?
Upon arrival asylum seekers receive an induction from Clear Springs Ready Homes Ltd on expected behaviour. They are also given details on how to stay safe.
Wellbeing of asylum seekers
Will there be any opportunities to volunteer or offer support to the asylum seekers?
Yes, but details of how this will be coordinated are still being worked on. Further details will be provided in the coming days. Although the hotel has already received some donations, we will publish details of specific items that residents may need should they wish to donate In the meantime please do not deposit items with the hotel as this can cause security and resourcing issues.
What is being put in place to protect the mental wellbeing of the people who are seeking asylum?
Whilst all basic needs for food, shelter, and urgent welfare are being provided at the hotel and funded directly by the Home Office, local agencies including Devon County Council, North Devon District Council, local NHS health services and the Police are all working closely together to help and support residents and to ensure the ongoing health and wellbeing of all concerned.
How are you going to maintain the safety of Devon residents?
Devon and Cornwall Police are working closely with local public service partners and Clear Springs Ready Homes Ltd to seek to try and minimise the impact upon community safety caused by the asylum accommodation centre.
Will there be a greater police presence?
The police will allocate resources as necessary. They are also working closely with local authority partners and Clear Springs Ready Homes Ltd to manage any concerns.
How do local businesses/community groups share any concerns?
If you have any community safety issues you wish to raise then please email the North Devon District Council community safety partnership at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need to contact the police in a non-emergency, please phone 101.