The asylum seekers spending months in Skegness hotels
In the seaside town of Skegness, a row has broken out about the policy of housing asylum seekers in hotels. With some businesses raising concerns about a loss of trade, ITV News reporter Amelia Beckett has been speaking to one of those who have fled their native countries for a life on the Lincolnshire coast.
They were bundled into the back of a lorry and driven through the darkness, with no idea where they were heading.
Ten months ago "Kamran" – not his real name – made the treacherous journey from Iran to the UK.
After converting from Islam to Christianity he said he was at risk of religious persecution in his home country. Conversion is illegal In Iran. Those who break the law can face long prison sentences and, in some cases, even the death penalty.
"If I had stayed I could have been hanged. My country is not good right now. My main priority was to find somewhere safe," he said.
When Kamran paid a people smuggler £10,000 to secure his safety, he says he wasn't told where he would be taken.
It wasn't until he was on the French shoreline being bundled into a boat that he realised.
"I didn't want to get in. I can't swim but the smugglers had knives. I had to do it," he said.
After arriving in the UK, Kamran was sent to a hotel in Skegness, along with around 30 other Iranian refugees. Most of them now volunteer with the Storehouse church, after meeting Reverend David Middleton soon after their arrival.
"They want to volunteer. They're not lazy", Revd Middleton said. "We've become very friendly and they're integrated certainly into our church. And they're very loved."
Unable to work, they spend their days using their skills as tradesmen to help renovate the food bank and homeless shelter. Nevertheless, while the church has welcomed them in, Kamran says Skegness can sometimes feel more hostile.
"People shout racist things," he said. "It doesn't bother me because I am safe. But we are not criminals, we are not thieves, we are not bad people. We want to work but we can't."
Asylum seekers like Kamran have found themselves at the centre of nationwide tensions around the Home Office policy of using hotels to house those arriving in small boats. Kamran himself has been living in one for 10 months.
At a meeting with Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman, residents shared their fears that Skegness would lose its appeal as a family resort, harming business for years to come.
One woman warned: "I ran a hotel in Margate, where this exact same thing has already happened. It died the same death that people are worried about here."
Another resident said the town's cheap hotels meant it was being used as "dumping ground".
Mr Warman has raised the issue with the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman.
He said: "Three points that I've made time and time again, as have many other members of parliament, is that we need to deter people from making those journeys across the Channel in the first place.
"We need to speed up processing so that people are not in hotels or whatever accommodation for as long as they currently are, and we need to make sure that we look at alternative forms of accommodation, such as disused military barracks which have been used elsewhere."
Meanwhile Kamran says he is still waiting to hear from the Home Office regarding his claim.
"We are grateful to be safe, but living in a hotel room for 10 months is not what we want. I still haven't had an interview and I have no clue how long I will be here."
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