There have been and will continue to be changes to the way that services for asylum seekers and refugees are running due to Corona Virus (Covid-19).
We will keep this page updated with information as and when new updates become available.
For information and updates about the organisations offering support in Newcastle please see resources page.
For information about how services can redesign and deliver services during the Covid-19 outbreak please see Refugee Action Coronavirus handbook.
Home Office Services:
Asylum Accommodation and Support:
On 27th March 2020 the Home Office announced that it will not ask people to leave asylum accommodation, or end their asylum support. This applies to people who are granted status, and to those that are refused. This will be in place for three months, and will be reviewed at the end of June.
ASAP have produced a new factsheet setting out changes in eligibility for asylum support as a result of covid-19, in particular for Section 4 for people who do not have fresh claims. Read more about this here.
Face to face substantive asylum interviews have been paused for now. Any that are scheduled from 19th March 2020 will be cancelled, and they will not be scheduling any new face to face interviews for now.
All reporting at Middlehaven, Middlesbrough has been temporarily deferred. Everyone that reports should receive a text message with details of their future reporting dates. This will be kept under constant review in light of the ongoing situation.
Anyone who has been advised to self-isolate or is demonstrating symptoms of Corona Virus or indeed any other communicable disease should not be reporting even if they are asked to do so by text.
If clients wish to contact the reporting centre they should do so by emailing [email protected] or by calling 0300 0 723 692 between 09.30am-11.30m and 1pm-3pm Monday-Friday.
Clients can also update their contact details by emailing this inbox –quoting their HO reference number (or if not known their full name, dob & nationality).
Further Submissions / Fresh Claims:
Applicants wanting to make further submissions should not travel to Liverpool to hand them in. They can send them in via e-mail [email protected] or via post at: FSU, The Capital Building, Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L3 9PP.
This new process is a temporary measure only due to the Corona Virus (COVID-19) and clients will be notified when the temporary process is going to end.
The Voluntary Returns Service is not offering assisted returns at this time. They will continue to register an interest from people who wish to return, and to offer other levels of support to help as many people as they can.
Where they can arrange flights, get travel documents etc they will continue to do this, and are very happy to talk to people to see what help we can offer on an individual basis. They will also register those who need assisted support on our systems, and our caseworkers will be in touch with every person who registers an application with us on a regular basis to update on the travel situation, and to give them as much information as we possibly can.
People can get in touch by phone (0300 004 0202), and can register their interest via the electronic portal on gov.uk (https//www.gov.uk/return-home-voluntarily/who-can-get-help).
Mears Asylum Accommodation:
Mears are responsible for asylum accommodation and if you need to self-isolate, you need to contact your Mears Welfare Manager to discuss this and seek advice. You should also notify Migrant Help.
Any actions undertaken in relation to this should be fully explained by Mearns, ensuring that you understand the importance of self-isolation. Mears will use interpreters, where required.
If you are in self-isolation Mears should keep in regular contact and provide food; sanitary products; anti-bacterial cleaning products etc for the period of time you are expected to be self-isolated.
Housing and Support:
If people have been issued with a notice to quit, prior to the changes that came in on 27th March, and are in the 28 day move-on period, and are unable to access move-on services either due to self isolation or because of a reduction in local authority services (to access housing for example), they should make an application for an extension of support via Migrant Help. This will be considered on a case by case basis pending further guidance on a formal position. This can be done via the Migrant Help phone line: 0808 8010 503.
From 23rd March 2020 postal applications for Integration Loans will no longer be accepted.
Fully completed Integration Loan application forms and supporting documents e.g. Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), Immigration Status Document and banking details should now be scanned and sent via email to [email protected] Where scanning facilities are not accessible, photos of the signed application form and supporting documents will be accepted, also by email. Customers must include their email address within the loan application so they can tell them when their loan application has been decided.
If customers have already sent a fully completed postal application in the last few days their application will be considered and they do not need to take any further action.
NRPF and homelessness:
People with NRPF (no recourse to public funds) who are sleeping rough and are usually not eligible for housing assistance can request support from the Council to access appropriate accommodation. This is looked at on a case by case basis. Please contact the Housing Advice Centre for more information.
The Migrant Help free national phone line continues to operate as usual for asylum queries: 0808 8010 503
Migrant Help will gather as much information over the phone so that where face to face work is essential, it can be as short as possible. This is intended to reduce contact to a minimum and also provide adequate space for appropriate distancing.
Corona Virus Health Information:
There is information available about Coronavirus in different languages here. Doctors of the World have created this guidance for patients in 23 languages. This guidance is based on the government’s updated advice and health information.
Health Care Charges:
There can be no charge made to an overseas visitor for the diagnosis or treatment of Corona Virus. This includes those living in the UK without permission who may have been refused asylum,
No charges will apply to testing for Corona Virus, even if the result is negative, or to any treatment provided for Corona Virus if the result is positive or up to the point that it is negatively diagnosed. The same is true of most other infectious diseases.
No immigration checks are required for overseas visitors that are known to be only undergoing testing or treatment for Corona Virus.