Written evidence submitted by Coventry City Council (COR0118)
1. Please see below some points on the Communication/relationship that the people in contingency IA (Coventry Hill Hotel) have with the AIRE & AASC providers. Also, issues SUs face due to current public health crisis and distancing measures.
2. The Home Office has responded promptly to head off some significant issues for local authorities and asylum seekers by introducing a set of temporary measures – for example ending discontinuations and removing some reporting requirements for service users.
3. There will be a need to engage in more detailed work with local authorities as the system resets to prevent challenges in the provision of housing for those successfully obtaining leave to remain.
4. Both the Home Office and Serco have worked hard to maintain effective communications with local authorities through the Strategic Migration Partnership and directly, and this is welcomed by the City Council.
5. With Migrant Help/Reed in Partnership at Coventry Hill hotel
- Resident at the Coventry Hill Hotel can only reach MH via phone/ online (not much change as their service was predominantly phone based before COVID-19). The weekly IAG sessions have been suspended due to public health crisis
- Based on client feedback communication has improved a lot with MH. Call waiting times have dropped significantly.
6. With Serco/ Requisite staffs at Coventry Hill hotel
- Requisite staff support the hotel residents and monitor issues very closely. They are contacted regularly by Coventry City Council (LAASLOs).
- Any residents at the hotel who are experiencing symptoms or have any medical issues are able to report to Requisite staff to make a GP appointment usually on the same day.
- Food is generally good at the hotel. Some issues have been reported regarding food quantity for people observing Ramadan. We are aware that reasonable adjustments have been made to food service to enable fasting and this is being monitored.
- A lack of WIFI / access to internet is still big challenge for people at the hotel. All activities have ceased and there is no free access to the internet for residents in their rooms. They are asked to pay £7 per day if they want to have access from their room.
- Single service users are still being required to share a room.
- By and large people are adhering to social distancing guidelines at the hotel, and self-isolation arrangements are in place.
- There is very limited movement from IA to DA, which makes hotel stays increasingly long.
7. General issues with DA clients in the city
- In DA the people are continuing to reach MH via phone or online as usual. However, due to suspension of the Home Office’s decision on asylum claims, there seem to be very little contact with Reed in Partnership from the clients.
- There is very little clarity around the value delivered by Reed in the calls they make.
- Some vulnerable clients with underlining health issues are advised by their GPs to self-isolate however long they have to. Serco housing officers and Safeguarding officers are supporting these people.
- Serco Housing officers have informed the Council that there have been DA clients who said they experienced symptoms. They were advised to self-isolate in their room and to be mindful when using communal spaces (kitchen and toilets). There were als0 able to get some support from safeguarding officers. These clients are all now recovered with no concerns.
- Local charities continue to support asylum seekers and refugees. Especially local food banks, St Francis of Assisi, Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre provide food and groceries for existing and newly dispersed DA clients.
- There are still some issues with Aspen Cards which LAASLOs have been able to sort out with Serco and MH staff members.
- Lack of granular data sharing by AASC provider and information regarding decisions from the Home Office impacts on the ability of the LAASLOs to support clients who have received negative decisions. The local authority would be more confident in understanding that the needs of asylum seekers were being met will full information sharing.