Photo of Stephen Kinnock MP, Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz and Cllr Grace Williams
Photo of Stephen Kinnock MP, Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz and Cllr Grace Williams

Islington’s Labour-run Council was recognised back in February by City of Sanctuary UK as a borough of sanctuary – a partnership between the council, the voluntary sector and our communities. For some residents Islington has been home for a short time or for much longer. The Council’s vision is that all residents looking for a safe place to call home can do so, whilst feeling welcomed, included, and connected to Islington.

That is why we were pleased to welcome Stephen Kinnock, Shadow Minister for Immigration, to Islington along with Grace Williams, London Councils Lead on Refugees and Asylum and Leader of Waltham Forest Council, to a local hostel on Monday (13th May) to discuss how we welcome refugees and asylum seekers here in Islington, with Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Leader of Islington Council.

Home Office changes to hotel evictions are affecting refugees all over the country, and this is placing extra pressure on already overstretched local authority housing services. Planning from Islington’s No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF), Migrant and Refugee Service and the Housing Needs team has put Islington in a strong position to expand our housing services and to continue to prevent homelessness.

At present, there are approximately 850 asylum seekers living in two Home Office asylum contingency hotels. Asylum seekers in Islington have lived in those hotels for as long as 22 months, with an average stay of 14 months for all occupants. As part of the Streamlined Asylum Process, many more asylum seekers are being granted refugee status whilst in Islington. At the same time, the Home Office has shortened its eviction timescales to between 7 and 28 days following a grant of status. Islington Labour firmly believes that this is unacceptable as it gives such a short window to set up a bank account, claim universal credit or find a job – increasing the risk of homelessness for newly granted refugees.

We will continue to fight for our refugee and migrant community to ensure that all of Islington’s diverse communities are treated fairly and properly, and continue to work with the national Labour Party to ensure a Labour Government fights for migrants and refugees.

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