Written evidence from Thousand4£1000
Thousand4£1000 is a small registered charity based in Brighton and Hove run by volunteers. Our aim is to support migrants, asylum seekers and refugees who are in danger of becoming destitute. We provide accommodation, as well as financial, practical and emotional support. Our funding is primarily through small regular donations from the residents of Brighton and Hove.
We wish to submit evidence to the Public Accounts Committee because, through our contact with a number of asylum seekers in Brighton and Hove, we are concerned about the quality and level of support offered by the “Asylum accommodation and support transformation programme”.
Since the beginning of 2020 we have been in regular contact with about 30 single men who have been placed in shared accommodation in Brighton under this programme. These are our concerns:
- The contact details for the manager of the scheme, to which all residents are supposed to have access for any issues, are very inadequately advertised in the properties. They consist of a mobile telephone number and first name written on a small piece of paper on a noticeboard. As the residents cannot afford to put credit on their phones, they are reliant on free messaging services such as WhatsApp. However the manager has told them that he does not use WhatsApp. Therefore they effectively have no way of contacting him.
- It has been reported to us that the Migrant Help helpline is totally unfit for purpose, because the phone is rarely answered.
- There is no internet connection in any of the properties, so contact with families and friends, lawyers and other services, such as doctors’ surgeries, is impossible. This is a huge disadvantage and creates great frustration and anxiety. Most of us take this basic facility for granted and would struggle with everyday life without it.
- The accommodation itself is very basic and affords little in the way of comfort or the opportunity to socialise amongst the residents.
- The extremely small allowance paid to the residents leaves them living in virtual destitution and it is clear that the mental health of many of the residents is severely affected.
- These conditions are exacerbated by the inordinately long delays in the decision-making by the Home Office: many waiting for over a year for a decision.
Finally we feel that these contracts do NOT offer good value for money. As a small local charity we are able to provide accommodation, an internet connection, subsistence and travel passes, as well as pastoral support, for between £400 and £600 a month per person.