Up to 4,000 refugees still live in Heathrow hotels struggling to find accommodation

A west London woman explained that the refugee crisis in the Middle East and Africa continues in the capital with ‘thousands’ still being held in hotels because they have not found social housing. She said that despite Afghan refugees taking center stage recently, many are still staying in Heathrow hotels and have been there for “months”.

At least 4,000 are still using airport hotels, arriving in England with “next to nothing” and having to stay in hotels indefinitely, Tamzin Doggart said.

She says that because it is impossible to find homes for families, many have spent months living in a hotel room shared with their family. Tamzin, who lives near Heathrow, helps asylum seekers access essentials such as clothes and toiletries. Despite the war in Ukraine, Tamzin says refugees in Heathrow hotels come from different places of origin because Ukrainians have a different asylum process than other people like Afghanistan.

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Tamzin visits more than half a dozen hotels in the Heathrow area, providing refugees with everything from donated stationery to food. She said: “There are still a lot of refugees in temporary hotels, especially around Heathrow. I look after a lot of them and have a network of people who are trying to help those who get stuck. found in hotels. More recently, we have provided stationery for children and Eid Gift Bags.

Stacks of donations that were given to Afghan refugees at Heathrow in December

“It is not Ukrainian refugees who are in our hotels but asylum seekers from Africa and the Middle East. While their asylum applications are being processed, they stay here. Some have been in hotels for so long that they now go to school in the region.

“They come with next to nothing and we provide them with free materials to help them study and live. We are currently looking for 100 laptops to help children who need computers for school work. haven’t had much attention on these refugees, so it’s harder to get donations.”

The Ukrainian system contrasts with that of other asylum seekers who have to wait to see if their application will be accepted before being accommodated. Ukrainians are allowed to come and start working almost immediately.

She continued: “There is a housing shortage among the refugees and now they are all here, it has become thinner. School places are disputed but most allow asylum seekers, even outside the catchment area, to become students.

“There are even a few hotels that have permanently closed to normal visitors just so they can have a space reserved for refugees.”

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