Like many others, we expressed concerns when we were made aware of the decision to use military barracks in Folkestone and Penally to house asylum seekers, and what impact it may have on this vulnerable client group. While we understand the need to find and provide accommodation to people seeking refuge in the UK, it is crucial to also ensure the wellbeing of those housed in these facilities.

Migrant Help’s representatives have been visiting both sites from the start, to offer our assistance and work alongside the accommodation provider in addressing the concerns raised.

As an organisation, we are the centralised point of contact for the asylum seekers at the sites, offering direct assistance, from helping to fill in support applications, advice on the asylum claim process to signposting to legal representatives and other specialist organisations. We also help the clients report issues that need addressing to relevant providers.

We are working closely with the accommodation provider and the Home Office to ensure the asylum seekers’ needs are met. We’ve recently recruited community support workers at both locations, who will be in post shortly, to ensure our presence on site so we are able to proactively engage with those accommodated and support them in the best way possible.

We’ve received many positive offers of further support from local charities and businesses in the areas and are currently co-ordinating further on-site response.

Our hope is for the wellbeing of the asylum seekers to be prioritised and their physical, emotional and psychological needs met during what ideally should only be a temporary solution to sourcing more permanent housing.