Asylum seekers with disabilities 'left to rot' at Essex former care home, claim campaigners

  • Watch Hannah Pettifer's report for ITV News Anglia

Asylum seekers with severe disabilities and complex medical needs have been abandoned by the authorities and "left to rot", according to a charity supporting them.

More than 50 asylum seekers are staying in a former care home in the Tendring area of Essex, many of them seriously ill and confined to bed.

Others are disabled, have long term illnesses or have been injured during combat.

For more than a year, they have been supported by charity Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant Action (RAMA) who now no longer have enough funds to keep up their work and are calling on the council to act quickly.

Maria Wilby from the charity told ITV News Anglia: "The council has money that they can use to make those people's lives better - right down to underwear for people who've arrived with literally what they're standing up in.

"These are families, some of these people are pensioners. They are so unwell and so distressing to see how they've been left there to rot."

Maria Wilby Credit: ITV News Anglia

According to RAMA, the council has spent nothing on the care of the people in the former care home, despite being given money from government to support refugees and asylum seekers.

Ahmad - not his real name - is one of the asylum seekers housed in the former care home. He was a pilot and worked for NATO alongside US and UK airforces in Afghanistan.

After he was shot on a NATO mission, he was taken to Turkey for treatment but was unable to return to his home country when the Taliban took over in 2021.

He sold a car to pay for a journey to the UK on a small boat, thinking he would find help here. But now, he says, he feels that friendship and service he gave to the Allied forces has been forgotten.

His receives meals in the care home, but other than that has to live on an allowance of £8 a week.

He said: "I am grateful to be honest, but I was expecting more good treatment in here.

"I used to work for NATO, at least they could look at my case as an individual. I helped NATO against international terrorists.

"I am grateful, but I don't see good treatment here."

Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in 2021 Credit: PA

He compared living in the care home to living in an open jail.

He added: "My family are, because of me, in a very grave and dangerous situation back home because I worked with the NATO.

"And since I came here, I was in an uncertain situation. This August it's going to be one year for me and I didn't receive any response from anyone.

"I would love to serve a country. I chose the UK as my second country and I want to serve here or contribute, but they don't take my hand. They won't let me be a part of things here. They don't give me a chance."

Many of the residents said their medical needs are not being met.

Many of the residents say they are not getting the medical support they need Credit: ITV News Anglia

Rania and her sister, Sara, came to the UK from Sudan in November.

In their home country, their disabilities had made them a target for violence and so they did everything they could to escape.

They said they felt more accepted in the UK, but the care home was not suitable for them.

Rania said: "There's no hand to help her to move in this place. She has been kept in her bed for six months, which is not good for her."

Sara added: "Yes, I can't move on my own. I need hand grip in the wall to catch me and now I feel swelling in my feet because I can't move.

"I want to walk, I want to move, I say to [the charity] I need my own home, I need to something for my own condition, with hand rails all around."

The home is run by Clearsprings Ready Homes, appointed directly by the Home Office.

Clearsprings would not comment on the issues raised.

Damian Williams Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Home Office said in a statement: "We do not operate care homes nor commission 'care' as it is not within our statutory remit.

"Asylum accommodation providers are contractually obliged to ensure accommodation is accessible for disabled people and where concerns are raised we work with providers to ensure they are addressed."

Meanwhile, Tendring District Council said it had been given £90,000 from the Home Office to support refugees, but could only use it when they are moved into the community.

Damian Williams from Tendring District Council said: "We can only provide support that fits within our remit and that's what we've done. We can't provide services we're not responsible for or [are able to] provide properly so as Tendring District Council we believe we've provided the appropriate level of support."

But RAMA argues there's no appropriate accommodation suitable for those with such complex needs, and so they are falling through the cracks.

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