The reality of Covid-19 for families in the asylum system stuck at home without food and internet.

This is a difficult time for us all, but as our staff and volunteer team grapple with working from home, the people we work with have been pushed into further isolation. Our team in Glasgow and Dundee have been calling families and individuals who we support, to check in on their wellbeing and find out what support they might need. One of our caseworkers described our phone services as a “safety net” for people who have lost access to a number of vital services in just a matter of weeks.

Hope’s story

Hope is a single mum whose children have health issues that put them at high risk. This means she cannot even go to the shops and doesn’t have a support network around her to help. We are grateful to volunteers at Glasgow Mutual Aid and Refuweegee for their quick and careful support in delivering immediate food supplies to this family. We also contacted Mears, their accommodation provider, who have agreed to provide weekly food packages. But Mears should be doing this anyway, without us chasing them up.

Maria’s story

Maria is a single mum of five. She and one of her kids are currently unwell. They needed to go to the doctor but due to current rules have to phone to make an appointment. They made three attempts to do so, but the receptionist hung up the phone because she couldn’t understand what Maria was saying. We called Maria’s doctor for her, but the receptionist refused to make an appointment as Maria cannot speak English. We eventually spoke to the doctor who refused to see them as she thought this was  a dental issue. We challenged this and the family have finally been able to get the health service they require. It should not have required a third party for Maria and her daughter to get the healthcare they  need.

Ana’s story

Ana is a single mother with three high school age children, two of whom were due to sit important exams in May. The family are still in very basic asylum accommodation, with just some furniture, and one smart phone between the four of them with very limited data. Ana told our team a number of times of the struggle of practicing self-isolation and social distancing with teenagers with no access to the internet and only one device between four people. They are bored, isolated and lonely.  The two eldest children should be engaging in online learning and turning in coursework to the school online, but they have absolutely no access to devices fit for this type of activity. They’re anxious about how this will impact their education. The family are really struggling and Ana is finding it hard to cope on her own despite being a super resilient and strong individual.

Our fundraising team are collecting laptops and other devices for our clients who are in real and urgent need, please get in touch if you are able to donate to a family or individual in need.

This is an extremely difficult time for our clients who have been left without internet access, face-to-face support services, financial support and access to food, with young children in the house or babies on the way. Survivors of sexual and other types of violence who have been left without any support. People being put up in hotels without decent food or access to information.

Our frontline advisers are resilient and working hard to adapt to this crisis, and we would like to take this moment to thank them for their dedication and work over the past few incredibly difficult weeks. We have a long road ahead but we will keep fighting to ensure that nobody is left behind in this crisis.

Find out more about our Covid-19 response.

Chris Afuakwah
Author: Chris Afuakwah