News Walthamstow

Home Office begins moving asylum seekers from Walthamstow hotel

Refugee support workers have said about 80 asylum seekers are being moved tonight to hotels in Newham. The bulk of evictions are set for tomorrow morning

By Marco Marcelline and Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Concerned locals stood outside the gates in protest as the first families were removed this evening.

The Home Office has begun moving asylum seekers who have stayed in a Walthamstow hotel for years.

A crowd of local residents and activists at a hastily organised protest this evening waved their goodbyes as cabs with migrant families started to stream out of the hotel. At one point, people linked arms as they attempted to stop the taxis from leaving.

According to George Gaillet, a community organiser with CitizensUK, around 80 asylum seekers were being moved to various hotels in Newham tonight. The evictions started at 5pm.

On Thursday 18th January residents at the hotel received a letter from the government’s asylum seekers’ housing contractor Clearsprings Ready Homes saying their rooms would “no longer be available” from Friday 26th January.

In its letter, Clearsprings said it would find “suitable alternative” housing within the Home Office-funded “initial accommodation estate”, which is usually hostels or hotels.

At the protest outside the hotel this evening, activists and locals made their opposition to the removals clear.

Fatima Zahra Boukhechem, from Walthamstow, heard about the planned removals today and decided to come down to show support for the asylum seekers. She said: “I think it’s disgusting, I think it’s shameful. I want every person in that hotel that we care, that’s why we’re standing here”.


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She added: “They’re paying the price for something that has nothing to do with them.”

A young protester makes her feelings clear.

Nora Doclis-Capli, a safeguarding officer at St Barnabas Church, said that she had developed strong bonds with the asylum seekers who came to the church to cook meals every week, many for at least a year.

“We have a hall that we opened as a warm space. We provided the space for them to come and cook, [we’ve held] barbecues in the summer. They’re very settled.”

Nora said she hoped that government contractor Clearsprings would push back the removals to April, as had been the plan in a letter sent by the Home Office to Waltham Forest Council on Tuesday 17th January.

The bulk of the evictions are set to begin tomorrow morning.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are making significant progress with moving asylum seekers out of hotels, which cost UK taxpayers £8.2million a day.

“Accommodation is allocated on a no-choice basis and individuals may be moved to other locations in line with the Allocation of Accommodation guidance.

“We work closely with accommodation providers and local authorities to manage the exit process in a way which limits the impact on partners and individuals alike.”

A spokesperson for Clearsprings Ready Homes said: “We take the welfare of those we accommodate during their asylum process, very seriously.

“At this time we are not able to comment on individual matters but we can refer you to the Home Office press office for any input they may be able to provide.”


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