One in three asylum seekers report lower mental health while living in hotels during lockdown according to a new study.
Positive Action in Housing carried out a survey of 230 asylum seekers accommodated in hotels in Glasgow by the Mears Group over the last 12 months.
The research has been published amid calls for a public inquiry into the Park Inn hotel stabbings a year ago.
The rampage at the city centre hotel saw six people injured and the knifeman, 28-year-old Badreddin Abadlla Adam from Sudan, shot dead by police.
Campaigners say it happened “as a direct result of the dysfunctional UK asylum support and accommodation system” and that asylum seekers were moved en masse to “asylum hotels” abruptly during the height of the pandemic, suggesting the “unsuitable and unsafe conditions” brought about a widespread decline in mental health among residents.
One in three who filled in the survey said they were suffering depression or PTSD, taking medication for sleep or anxiety, with 14 people saying they suffer suicidal thoughts.
Amongst the reasons given were a sense of hopelessness, loss of control over their own lives, inability to cook for themselves, fears for their families they had left behind, living in extreme poverty or danger, while they waited for Home Office decisions on their cases.
Positive Action In Housing aldo claimed a “significant number” of people stated that they had not seen a doctor, dentist or optician .
Several people referred to the hotels as “prisons”, that they could not get privacy, cook or clean, that there was restrictions on food or bottled water.
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156 hotel asylum seekers (68%) reported that they do not receive any money at all for living expenses. Just over a quarter of people (62) said they had received their hotel subsistence payment of £8 a week.
Those who eventually received it were reportedly told by Migrant Help that the Home Office would not be paying the backdated payment and that this would be “assessed” once they were dispersed to accommodation..
Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action In Housing, said: “The situation is one of misery and desperation and those in authority appear to be taking no heed of their suffering.
“People want their Home Office cases settled so they can finally leave the oppressive contract system that governs their lives, seek work or study , contribute to society and stand on their own resources.”
The Home Office has previously defended the system, saying: “Like everyone else in the country during the coronavirus outbreak, asylum seekers have been asked to stay where they are and to follow social distancing to help fight the spread, which has meant standing up temporary accommodation.
“When staying in hotel accommodation, all essential living needs, including three meals a day, healthcare, wifi and TV, are met, which is all paid for by the taxpayer and there is no cost to the individual.
“For anyone with any issues, there is a 24-hour hotline available for support and it is fundamentally untrue to suggest that they are threatened with detention or deportation if they complain.”