‘1000’s’ of asylum seekers go hungry after Residence Workplace money card issues, say campaigners

Aspen cards are topped up with £39.63 each week to help asylum seekers buy food, clothes and toiletries

2021-05-29 14:21:00

1000’s of asylum seekers have gone hungry for over per week, in keeping with charities and rights teams, who say there are issues with Residence Workplace-provided money playing cards.

The Aspen playing cards, usually given to asylum seekers, are loaded with £39.63 per week to assist pay for issues comparable to meals, clothes and toiletries.

The Residence Workplace this week modified the way in which the playing cards are issued and many individuals have reported not receiving them, or having improper names on them.

Others say the brand new playing cards don’t have cash on when activated.

Sky Information spoke to a person known as Walter, who has fled gang violence in Central America. As an asylum seeker, he’s not allowed to work whereas his declare is being thought-about.

Walter and his spouse have an eight-month-old son.

“During the last six days, we have simply tried to maintain the meals we received from charities, particularly greens, for the infant,” he stated.

“My spouse and I, as adults, we all know that we will assist ourselves a bit extra, the infant is totally different. However now that we’ve no meals, it is actually vital.

Walter had been relying on charity donations for food while waiting on his Aspen card to be activated but he has now run out of food
Walter, who needed to maintain his anonymity, says he’s fearful about feeding his child

“I known as charities they usually stated ‘Look, my pal, I am not in a position that will help you. We’re receiving lots of calls reporting the identical scenario’.”

Walter’s household have been relocated in the beginning of the month to a brand new house 200 miles away.

He suspects his new card could have been despatched to the outdated handle.

“We don’t have any associates right here, we’re simply new to town. We don’t have any charity or something,” Walter stated.

“It is actually traumatic, after I take a look at my child and see that he is hungry, I get actually fearful. I do not know what else I can do.”

Sky Information visited a housing advanced in Surrey the place there are experiences that 30 households residing there are but to obtain playing cards.

One lady described her desperation.

“I considered promoting a few of our garments since I am not allowed to work. I considered promoting our garments to get assist till the playing cards arrive. However even that resolution would take time,” she advised Sky Information.

Clare Moseley, chief govt of the charity Care4Calais, stated: “The importance of the issue is that they solely get £39.63 to reside on per week and that’s such a tiny quantity, and if you’re on such a low quantity you are not making any financial savings. It is actual hand-to-mouth.

Clare Moseley, chief executive of Care4Calais most asylum seekers using the Aspen card live hand to mouth
Clare Moseley, chief govt of Care4Calais, says most asylum seekers utilizing the Aspen card reside hand to mouth

“Even being with out it for a few days is an issue, being with out it for per week is a catastrophe.

“Individuals haven’t got meals, we’re signposting individuals to meals banks, we’re getting cellphone calls from individuals who have not eaten,” she stated.

The Residence Workplace says it’s helping “everybody affected,” and that it has shared an emergency money escalation inbox with companions from the charity sector.

A Residence Workplace spokesperson stated: “A brand new service to supply asylum seekers with monetary assist went reside on Monday and we’re helping everybody affected to make sure they get entry to their funds swiftly.

“We offered clear recommendation to asylum seekers that they have to activate their new playing cards previous to the service going reside and the overwhelming majority of people have achieved so.

“Those that have points or are not sure how they’ll activate their playing cards are in a position to contact the 24/7 Migrant Assist helpline. Lodging Suppliers can facilitate emergency money funds within the meantime.”

However each Walter and the girl in Surrey say the helpline has not been in a position to help.

“I attempted to name Migrant Assist so many instances however the name is all the time failing and that’s the solely authority we will talk with. They’re the hyperlink between us and the Residence Workplace. If it wasn’t for the charity West London Welcome, I am unable to think about what would have occurred,” she advised Sky Information.

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