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Asylum seekers’ ‘squalid’ housing to be investigated

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Yorkshire Evening Post

EXCLUSIVE – By Paul Willis

We want hall to be hive of activity Lincolnshire Echo June 15, 2005 THE Home Office is investigating claims that vulnerable asylum seekers in Leeds are being housed in squalid conditions without gas or hot water. The Yorkshire Evening Post has also learned young families who speak little or no English are being dumped in rundown properties and left for months on end with no access to GPs and schools for their children. The claims centre on the private housing provider Angel Group which supplies accommodation to hundreds of asylum seekers in West Yorkshire. The YEP has visited properties in Beeston and Cross Green owned by the London-based company, which declared profits of £ 20.5m last year. In one damp-ridden property in Beeston the Somali family living there said they had spent the entire winter without gas or hot water. A leak in the ceiling had created a huge pool of water on the kitchen floor and the 16-year-old daughter was suffering from a skin condition said to have been brought on by the permanent damp. Another house in Cross Green has become a virtual prison for Areej Harun, a 10-year-old Somali girl. Areej, who is blind, has barely been out of the house in nearly three months. It is claimed the housing provider has failed to help the family find a school for Areej or her sister Fartun. Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn joined refugee groups in expressing concern over the treatment of the families. He said: This is very worrying. I will certainly be taking the matter up with Angel Group. Merlo Michell, from Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network (LASSN), said the organisation had received numerous complaints. Ms Michell said: We’re talking about society’s most vulnerable here. Many of them don’t know how to complain or who to. There seems a total disregard for these people by Angel Group. Under the terms of its contract with the Home Office, the company assigns tenants support workers who are expected to help families access local services as well as visiting them every three weeks. None of the families interviewed said they had received any such help. They said on the occasions reps from the company turned up it was only after persistent complaints. The YEP has passed on information about the group to the National Asylum Support Network (NASS), the Home Office body responsible for housing asylum seekers. A Home Office spokeswoman said the complaints were being investigated. An Angel Group spokesmen denied the company had done anything wrong.

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Written by Concerned

August 3, 2004 at 11:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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