COVID-19 Resources and Guidance

This page contains information on COVID-19 of relevance for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in the West Midlands, as well as those working with and supporting them. It is not a comprehensive and completely up-to-date source of information on COVID-19 and we urge people to check official nhs.uk and gov.uk websites for the latest information. If you have questions or comments on this document or on COVID-19 insofar as it relates to migration, please contact wmsmp@birmingham.gov.uk.

For a word (printable) version of the information below please click here.

Gov.uk stay at home guidance for households with potential coronavirus in English, Arabic, Bengali, French, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi, Simplified Chinese- Mandarin, Traditional Chinese- Cantonese, Urdu and Welsh https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

Gov.uk guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults in English, Arabic, Bengali, French, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi, Simplified Chinese- Mandarin, Traditional Chinese- Cantonese, Urdu and Welsh https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people

Government of Jersey flyers and posters in English, French, Romanian, Polish, Portuguese and British Sign Language https://www.gov.je/Health/Coronavirus/Pages/CoronavirusFlyersAndPosters.aspx

Latest NHS guidelines translated into over 30 languages https://www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/coronavirus-information/

Extensive multilingual resources collated byAnna Blennerhassett, Public Health registrar, and Patricia Lacey, Caroline De Brun, Knowledge and Evidence Specialists, all at Public Health England

Younger children https://www.mindheart.co/descargables

Older children/young people https://www.bigleaffoundation.org.uk/covid-19-advice.html Includes audio files which can be sent as a text if young people do not have internet and may be useful for those with limited literacy.

Reporting as a condition of immigration bail is temporarily paused https://www.gov.uk/immigration-reporting-centres

Serco has the Asylum Accommodation and Support Contract for the West Midlands. They shared this external communications document on 18.03.20.

Migrant Help has the Advice Issues Reporting and Eligibility contract for the UK, meaning they advise and support asylum claimants across the UK. Their Coronavirus Service Update is here  https://www.migranthelpuk.org/news/coronavirus-service-update

Pause in face to face substantive asylum interviews – email from UKVI Asylum Operations (18.03.20):

“Many of our applicants travel a long way to have a substantive asylum interview, which can be a lengthy interaction taking several hours.  On that basis, we have decided to pause face to face substantive asylum interviews for now.  That means we will be cancelling any that are scheduled from tomorrow 19th March and will not be scheduling any new face to face interviews for now. 

In the meantime, we are exploring other ways to find the information we need to make our decisions; digitally, by telephone and by post/ email, for example.  We can already interview people digitally from our offices or onsite in other location in some circumstances and are looking for support from digital colleagues to do that in a different way that doesn’t involve us being in one of our offices.  On that basis, we hope – availability of staff and applicants allowing – to be conducting those substantive asylum interviews again soon.  I will keep you updated on any progress we make on that.”

The Home Office is currently unable to process any statelessness applications or make any decisions on Stateless Leave applications. For further details see the Refugee Council’s website: https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/latest/news/changes-to-home-office-asylum-resettlement-policy-and-practice-in-response-to-covid-19/

The Home Office has temporarily closed its Service and Support Centres: https://www.gov.uk/visas-and-immigration-service-and-support-centres

Information about Sopra Steria UKVCAS centres can be found here https://www.ukvcas.co.uk/flash-message-detail?flashmessageId=56249

Hearings in the Immigration and Asylum Chambers of the First-tier and Upper tribunals are now taking place remotely. For a summary of relevant Practice Directions, Presidential Guidance Notes etc, see the Free Movement website: https://www.freemovement.org.uk/coronavirus/#Immigration_tribunal_hearings_going_remote

Appellants have been invited to call into asylum support appeal hearings rather than attending in person.For further details see the Refugee Council’s website: https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/latest/news/changes-to-home-office-asylum-resettlement-policy-and-practice-in-response-to-covid-19/

Postal applications for refugee integration loans are no longer being accepted– email from Auffea Woodhall, SEO -Operations Manager , Global Resettlement and Integration Loans, UKVI (24.03.20):

“Due to disruption caused by Covid 19 (as of 23 March) postal applications for Integration Loans will no longer be accepted.  Please would you inform customers about this change in the course of your work with them.  

Fully completed Integration Loan application forms and supporting documents e.g. Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), Immigration Status Document and banking details should now be scanned and sent via email to integrationloan@homeoffice.gov.uk. Where scanning facilities are not accessible, photos of the signed application form and supporting documents will be accepted, also by email.  Customers must include their email address within the loan application so we can tell them when their loan application has been decided.

If customers have already sent to us a fully completed postal application in the last few days their application will be considered and they do not need to take any further action. “

Temporary suspension of in-person submissions to Further Submissions Unit – email from Refused Case Management (18.03.20):

“[A]pplicants wanting to make further submissions can send them in via post, or via e-mail to our inbox. They should not travel to Liverpool to hand them in.

Postal address:FSU, The Capital Building, Hall Street, Liverpool, L3 9PP

E-mail address: CSUCE@homeoffice.gov.uk

This new process will be a temporary measure due to the Coronavirus problems. We will notify you all when the temporary process is going to end.

We will be updating the messages on the website, on our phones and on our inboxes. We will send a message to all applicants who have already booked an appointment.”

Cessation of Assisted Voluntary Return Service – email from VRS Communications and Engagement Service (20.03.20):

“We are currently receiving a high level of interest in the services we offer, and we continue to work with people to try and fulfil their requests to leave the UK.

However, we are currently experiencing difficulties that mean that we cannot currently support assisted returns for people who require a level of assistance upon return from the United Kingdom. We are experiencing infrastructure and other issues that make it difficult to impossible to offer that level of support at this time.

We have therefore made a very difficult decision to cease offering assisted returns at this time.

We will continue to register an interest from people who wish to return, and to offer other levels of support to help as many people as we possibly can. Where we can arrange flights, get travel documents etc we will continue to do this, and we are very happy to talk to people to see what help we can offer on an individual basis.

We will also register those who need assisted support on our systems, and our caseworkers will be in touch with every person who registers an application with us on a regular basis to update on the travel situation, and to give them as much information as we possibly can.

Please help us by encouraging people to get in touch by phone (0300 004 0202), and to register their interest via the electronic portal on gov.uk (https//www.gov.uk/return-home-voluntarily/who-can-get-help).”

IOM and UNHCR have announced the temporary suspension of resettlement travel for refugees (17.03.20) https://www.unhcr.org/uk/news/press/2020/3/5e7103034/iom-unhcr-announce-temporary-suspension-resettlement-travel-refugees.html

The Home Office has shared a Frequently Asked Questions document on resettlement to the UK (25.03.20).

Shelter and support is available for rough sleepers in Birmingham with no recourse to public funds through Trident Group. Call 0800 800 7157 or visit 35-38 Washington Street, Birmingham, B1 1LB.

NRPF Network coronavirus update (13.03.20) http://www.nrpfnetwork.org.uk/News/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx

Letter from the Department for Education to Directors of Children’s Services regarding local authorities’ duties towards unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (13.03.20)

The Government is providing £2.9 billion in finding to strengthen care for the most vulnerable: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/2-9-billion-funding-to-strengthen-care-for-the-vulnerable  Annette Connaughton, Department for Education, has emailed WMSMP to say (25.03.20):

“This funding announcement includes a pledge of £1.6 billion that will go to local authorities to help them respond to other coronavirus (COVID-19) pressures across all the services they deliver. Although it mainly references adult social services, this funding is also intended to meet the cost of extra demand and higher business as usual costs of providing children’s social care – including as a result of school closures, to meet the costs of placements and to address the need for isolation, including for unaccompanied asylum-seeking childrenLocal authority CEOs and chief finance officers will have received a letter setting this out and providing more detail.”

NHS.uk – Overview: Corona virus (COVID-19) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Gov.uk – Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

People who have medical conditions that make them extremely vulnerable to coronavirus can get government support such as deliveries of food https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable

This includes asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants. People can register themselves or others can register on their behalf including those working for local authorities, the third sector and accommodation providers.

Stay at home guidance for households with potential coronavirus in English, Arabic, Bengali, French, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi, Simplified Chinese- Mandarin, Traditional Chinese- Cantonese, Urdu and Welsh https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable adults in English, Arabic, Bengali, French, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi, Simplified Chinese- Mandarin, Traditional Chinese- Cantonese, Urdu and Welsh https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people

NHS entitlements: migrant health guide https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-entitlements-migrant-health-guide

Advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents There are accompanying factsheets on this guidance:

There are also comments, questions and ‘notes of caution’ regarding this guidance on the Free Movement website: https://www.freemovement.org.uk/coronavirus/#Visa_extensions_and_other_concessions_UPDATED_25_March

Guidance on immigration provisions made by the Home Office for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-immigration-guidance-if-youre-unable-to-return-to-china-from-the-uk#helpline

Immigration removal centres https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-and-immigration-removal-centres

Foreign travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Foreign embassies in the UK https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/foreign-embassies-in-the-uk

Guidance for health professionals https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/wuhan-novel-coronavirus

Includes (amongst other guidance)

Guidance for employers, employees and businesses in providing advice about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Coronavirus support for employees, benefit claimants and businesses https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-support-for-employees-benefit-claimants-and-businesses Please note people receiving benefits do not have to attend jobcentre appointments for at least 3 months, starting from Thursday 19 March 2020.

Central England Law Centre have suspended face-to-face appointments and have moved to a telephone and email service. For further details see https://www.centralenglandlc.org.uk/our-help-during-covid-19

The Refugee and Migrant Centre (Birmingham and Black Country) have suspended face-to-face appointments. They are running their drop-in via phone and online form. For further details see https://rmcentre.org.uk/

COVID Mutual Aid has published guidance for community groups on supporting migrants during coronavirus http://covidmutualaid.org/community-resources/#Migrant

The Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) has produced a factsheet on COVID-19 and asylum support. You can find it here: http://www.asaproject.org/uploads/Factsheet_20_-_Covid-19_and_asylum_support.pdf Other ASAP factsheets are here: http://www.asaproject.org/resources

ECPAT UK  is offering free webinars on trafficking and exploitation, First in the series will be the National Referral Mechanism for victims of trafficking, 11-11.45 am on Monday 30 March.To join, register at https://ECPAT-UK.webinarninja.com/live-webinars/256243/register If you are not able to join live, there will be a recording at the link after it has finished. For details of future webinars, please subscribe to the ECPAT UK account at https://ECPAT-UK.webinarninja.com. Any queries, please contact Phil Spencer, Training and Practice Officer on p.spencer@ecpat.org.uk

Little Bridge (www.littlebridge.com) is offering free online ESOL training. It is aimed at children but may help adults working with their children or for their own learning. Anyone interested should email: hello@littlebridge.com, putting  ‘English Language Support’ and ‘Home Office’  in the subject line. Little Bridge will then set up a free account and offer free online training, if requested.

Email from Asylum Matters (20.03.20):

“UKLGIG and the Red Cross have set up two Google groups to facilitate communications in the refugee and migration sector on coronavirus. The COVID-19 operations group will focus on service delivery, support and sustaining organisations. The COVID-19 policy group will discuss policy and advocacy efforts around migrants and refugees and COVID-19

If you would like to join either or both groups, please email Catherine at UKLGIG (catherine.kelly@uklgig.org.uk) or Leila (leila.zadeh@uklgig.org.uk)”.

The European Public Health Association has issued a statement on “Reducing the impact of the coronavirus crisis on those ‘left behind’ – Disadvantaged Migrants and Ethnic Minorities”:

[This page was last updated on 27 March 2020]