Last week it was reported in both the local and national press that there were more than 100 asylum seekers, including families, staying at the Amblehurst Hotel.
It was presented in a very negative light, despite the Messenger having several ‘more favourable’ quotes to choose from, sent by three local community leaders.
Around the same time this post appeared on Facebook, sparking over 100 comments…..
I’ve spoken to the manager at Tesco in Sale and she is horrified by these slanderous allegations. Totally refuting these claims she said:
“ We have had a slight increase in pickpocketing but this is purely seasonal and is nothing at all to do with the asylum seekers. We have had no incidents reported in store and I will be speaking to all security staff in relation to this allegation. If it has been said then it’s wrong and will be addressed accordingly, if it has not then this post is both inaccurate and defamatory.”
It was believed that the asylum seekers were originally from Romania and, with this in mind, I contacted a friend who is fluent in Romanian and we went to the Amblehurst to try and speak to some of the people staying there, in order to get their side of the story.
We arrived unannounced and managed to get in as far as reception. There is a security guard on the door who seemed very interested in why we were there, as was the receptionist who rushed towards us asking what we wanted.
I explained that we wanted to speak to some of the people staying there but it became very apparent that this wasn’t going to happen….
Passing me a business card she said: “Email the manager and if he decides he wants to speak with you he will reply…..”
At this point the security guard showed us to the door, and assisted us through it before we had chance to look around. I did however see that the bar area, on the right hand side near the front door, had been transformed into a playroom of sorts and there were quite a few children in there.
Since this failed attempt other information has come to light – as many of you will already be aware.
SERCO is the Government agency that deals with people arriving in the UK asking for asylum.
They have a marshaling facility in Liverpool and it is from here they make arrangements to disperse the ‘clients’ around the country whilst their claim for asylum is investigated.
They are currently running behind in these investigations and the group in Sale will probably be here longer than the 9 weeks reported.
This has been confirmed by another, reliable source who said it is more likely to be 20 weeks.
The Salvation Army have visited the families and donated some surplus toys that were “gratefully appreciated.” Many of the other local churches have also made contact with them and have offered support if needed.
There are 31 families, 104 people in total and they come from 15 different countries and speak a variety of different languages. It is understood that they have translation and legal support during their stay.
Asylum seekers are given a small allowance for personal expenses, sometimes this is in the form of vouchers.
They are not entitled to, nor do they claim unemployment/disability benefits or housing benefit. They cannot go on housing waiting lists and must live in asylum housing, as defined by the Government.
It would appear that the title Amblehurst ‘hotel’ is rather misleading, a more honest name would be Amblehurst Hostel as it has housed people on benefits for quite some time now. This has only become common knowledge with the recent publicity, and not thanks to the Daily Mail who depicted the hotel as premiership quality.
Please see some images from the Amblehurst that didn’t make the papers, seems they aren’t staying in the lap of luxury after all…..
Local people who have worked at the Amblehurst confirm that the standards had slipped a long time ago, the extension was uninhabitable when it was new and the general upkeep of the property was shoddy.
Rather different than the Mail would have you believe…
There has been much controversy surrounding SERCO and the treatment of asylum seekers, who incidentally were stripped of all tenants rights back in 1999, meaning they must stay in ‘asylum housing’ whilst their claim is looked at.
RAPAR (Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research) is deeply concerned about the current role and activities of SERCO.
Allegations of inhumane treatment towards asylum seekers by SERCO are numerous, here are some other facts that may shock you..
SERCO runs detainee escort services and electronically tag people seeking asylum.
SERCO has been the subject of many claims of abuse and assault by the very people they are supposed to care for:
Testimonies by detainees, many of whom had fled torture, rape and destitution, have revealed that racial, psychological and physical abuse had often been inflicted by SERCO staffSERCO is also taking over the management of an increasing number of public services in the UK, such as health cetres and welfare programmes where it is accused of prioritising profit over quality of service.
There has since been a protest arranged that took place around midday on Sunday 15 Dec, where a small number of the community met outside the Amblehurst with placards saying “Shamblehurst”
Maybe they hoped that the asylum seekers would pack up and leave, head back to whatever horror they fled from. God forbid they settle here and maybe one day claim benefits or get a house.
What I find most strange is that the ones spouting figures relating to tax payers money are often the same people claiming benefits themselves, having paid either very little or no taxes at all.
Seeking asylum is not a crime – being xenophobic should be
Let’s hope that none of us are ever in a situation where we seek the kindness of fellow humans and instead are faced with hatred and misunderstanding……
Here is the link to the Mail story…