A woman sharing a house with nine people while seeking asylum in the UK has described how social distancing is impossible.
Speaking anonymously to ITV News she revealed how kitchens and bathrooms were shared between five families. She said no one had contacted her about how to stay safe during the pandemic.
No one has contacted us about staying safe. I called one of the agents who would normally come to the house and they said 'we're putting things in place...' but up until now I still haven't heard anything.
The team is working through lockdown helping people, like our anonymous interviewee, who have no access to public funds.
The Home Office says the policy applies to those with temporary immigration status to protect public money.
We are delivering food parcels to around 145 families at the moment. Because they don't have bank accounts they're not able to order things online. Because they have such a small amount of income they can't stockpile. Local shops are putting up their prices which is pricing them out of the market for items such as halal meat.
Since lockdown began Newham Council says it's been helping people with no recourse to public funds by supplementing Home Office allowances and moving people into larger accommodation.
We've had a 300 per cent increase in terms of requests for support from this group of residents and it highlights the unfairness of a system that the government has introduced where those with no recourse to public funds are essentially treated as second class citizens.
In a statement the Home Office said:
Asylum seekers are supported by the Home Office with accommodation and their essential costs and once they have refugee status they can apply for mainstream benefits. Any asylum seekers in shared accommodation have been given clear guidance on coronavirus and social distancing.
After four years of waiting our interviewee is now waiting for official government documents to confirm her status after finally being granted leave to remain in the UK.
I have a big dream. I'm looking to study and become a nurse, or a social worker.