06 Jun COVID-19 ‘exposed damaging immigration policies’ – report | UK News
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on migrants who have limited or insecure status, according to a new report.
About 75% of migrants surveyed said they struggled to pay for food during the pandemic, while half were left unable to afford toiletries and cleaning products.
Of those who needed financial support, 64% were unable to access it.
The findings come as part of the Building Resilience project, a partnership between Migrant Voice, Refugee and Asylum Participatory Action Research, and Kanlungan Filipino Consortium.
Angelina, which isn’t her real name, came to the UK over a decade ago for work, and settled after having her first child here.
As a result of the pandemic, she lost her job – her only source of income.
Being unable to access any public funds left her relying on charity and community initiatives, including the Kanlungan Filipino Consortium.
Despite this, she said she and her five-year-old child often had to go without food during the pandemic.
She told Sky News: “I’m scared for my life, I’m scared for my son’s life, and I’m scared of how we’re going to survive each day.
“I’m really stressed about what’s going to happen in the future if we stay like this.
“All I know is that I have to find a job. That’s my first concern: to find a job so I can earn money and then we can live day by day and not worry about where to get the food to put on our table and feed my son and where I’m going to get the things to support him.”
Many others shared similar stories, including Nadia, which is also not her real name.
Nadia fled India with her two children, due to religious persecution.
Her oldest daughter became destitute just before the first lockdown began, forcing the family to stretch the limited resources and aid they were receiving.
Nadia told Sky News: “It came to a time where we were just living on baked beans and rice.
“It was a nightmare-ish experience.
“With the second lockdown I actually called the GP and said: ‘Look I think we’re going to end our lives, we can’t do this anymore’, because it was so hard.
“I think that it’s a period I want to forget in my life, I wish I could just jump from, I wish I could rewrite this whole thing.”
Nazek Ramadan, director of Migrant Voice UK, told Sky News: “If anything, COVID really exposed our immigration policies, exposed damaging policies.
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic and yet if you’re a worker you can’t access public services.
“If your income goes down you still have to pay this huge amount of money, extortionate amount of money, to renew your visa.
“I think government could have done more in the middle of a global crisis, in the middle of a pandemic, to support migrants.”
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “We have taken unprecedented action throughout the pandemic to ensure people receive the support they need.
“For asylum seekers awaiting a decision, we acted decisively to increase the level of asylum support to ensure the essential needs of those in dispersed accommodation are met.
“We have increased the weekly cash asylum support allowance for those in self-catered accommodation and have provided free, fully furnished accommodation with three meals a day for those in hotels.
“The provision of the COVID-19 vaccine is a primary medical service and is being offered to all individuals living in the UK.
“Primary medical care is free of charge to all overseas visitors and would not, therefore, require any status checks to be carried out.
“Undocumented migrants place unjust burdens on the taxpayer and should take steps to regularise their status so they can access support, or can speak to the Voluntary Returns Service if they can no longer remain in the UK.”