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 an exhaustive and up-to-the-minute source of information on COVID-19 and we urge people to check official gov.uk and nhs.uk websites for the latest information. Some information is repeated as it relates to more than one section of the page. If you have questions or comments on this webpage or on COVID-19 insofar as it relates to migration, please contact wmsmp@birmingham.gov.uk.


Multilingual COVID-19 guidance from Gov.uk & other source

  • The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched the Covid-19 Migrant Information Service, an online platform that provides information on COVID-19 measures and support in the UK: https://covid19uk.iom.int/. Information is available in an expanding range of languages and relates to five key areas of life that have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 emergency: Health, Employment, Benefits, Housing, and Immigration.
  • European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control national information resources on COVID-19: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/COVID-19/sources-updated
  • Multiple resources from the Roma Support group including videos and written guidance in Romanian, Romanes, Slovak, Slovak Romanes dialect, Romanian Romanes dialect and a child-friendly video in Romanes: https://www.romasupportgroup.org.uk/resources-for-the-roma-community.html


Response of the asylum, immigration & citizenship system to COVID-19

  • Guidance on getting support if you’re a migrant living in the UK:
  • The Home Office have considered the risks associated with maintaining operations and have concluded that their temporary surge intake units and asylum interview operations will continue in all of the regions – England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. For further information see below.
  • Asylum Operations National Restrictions Update 05.11.2020
  • Public Health England have created a guide which is aimed at all staff involved in the support of asylum seekers in all accommodation settings. 

Accommodation providers should:

  • ensure all residents are aware, understand and are regularly reminded of routine measures to prevent coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission, such as the ‘hands, face, space’ message
  • ensure all residents have access to handwashing facilities, hand sanitiser and face coverings
  • be aware of and adhere to national and local restrictions
  • identify single-rooms with en suite bathroom facilities for all residents, which should be suitable for self-isolation; if single occupancy accommodation is not available, accommodation where cohorting is possible should be provided
  • ensure they keep a register of residents, including their contacts
  • ensure they clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as door handles, handrails, table tops, and electronic devices (such as phones)
  • Covid-19: Information and guidance on shared and overcrowded housing – reducing the risk of infection
  • Homelessness and COVID-19 Vaccination advice.
  • The Home Secretary made an announcement in the House on 14 December on the improvements to the Windrush Compensation Scheme. Details of this can be found in the factsheet attached as well as on gov.uk and here.
  • A £500,000 Windrush Community Fund is also now open for applications. The Community Fund will support community and grassroots organisations to run outreach and promotional activity to raise awareness of the Windrush Scheme and Windrush Compensation Scheme. 

The Home Office currently funds Citizens Advice to provide expert and
independent advice to those who request support applying for
compensation.  On the 14 December we announced that We Are
Digital will provide this service from the first quarter of
2021.  We Are Digital work with various partners including Citizens
Advice.  Their network of community-based centres also includes libraries,
town halls, church groups, mosques, training providers and other community
groups. 

The Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) have created a factsheet that covers the changes in eligibility for asylum as a result of Covid-19: Factsheet_20_-_Covid-19_and_asylum_support_8.2.21.pdf (asaproject.org). The factsheet is up to date as of now, but the situation may change again soon. ASAP will aim to keep the factsheet up to date, however, it is still essential that you read HO decision letters and Tribunal directions carefully and call our advice line to discuss individual cases. Please continue to refer clients to ASAP for representation by emailing referrals@asaproject.org.uk.

  • The temporary process to claim asylum at Solihull- by calling the Asylum Intake Unit appointment line- does not apply to UASC. The Midlands Intake Unit emailed WMSMP on 23 June outlining the Covid19 Contingency process for UASC to claim asylum at Solihull:

“Social worker emails completed Pre Appointment questionnaire (PAQ) to MIUminor@homeoffice.gov.uk

Appointment is booked and UASC has their biometric appointment at Solihull Sandford House

Following appointment our team MIU will then complete and issue:-

  • form (completed from information submitted in PAQ / or if we require any further detail, we will contact Social Worker)
    • SEF – for self completion with help of solicitor
    • Immigration paperwork
    • Asylum Information pack

We will also order an ARC card

And case will be assigned to an asylum case worker”.

  • In an email to stakeholders on 14.08.2020, UKVI Asylum Operations said:

As part of a focus on minors applications, including planning to facilitate the restart of asylum interviews, we have contacted legal representatives in all cases where SEFs and Witness Statements are outstanding in order to request their completion and return at the earliest opportunity. Where there are obstacles to SEF and Witness Statement completion and return, we ask that representatives contact their local asylum office to explain the issues faced, plans for resolution and expected timeline for completion and return.”

  • Department for Education advice pack for care leavers during and after COVID-19 published on the Care Leaver Covenant website:  https://indd.adobe.com/view/75e4fb6d-61c2-44f4-98a8-f4c523fa3672 . A factsheet for UASC begins on page 20. Although the pack refers to advice for care leavers, the UASC factsheet is relevant to young people who are currently looked after, as well as to care leavers.

Flyer on eligibility for free school meals produced by Project 17, UK Sustain and Hackney Migrant Centre: https://hackneymigrantcentre.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Free-School-Meals-Info-Sheet-June-2020.pdf

Due to coronavirus, there are delays in the processing of citizenship applications. In addition, people have longer to book their citizenship ceremony after receiving an invitation from the Home Office and may be able to have a virtual ceremony depending on their local authority: https://www.gov.uk/citizenship-ceremonies

Further details are on the Free Movement website https://www.freemovement.org.uk/coronavirus/#Citizenship

The EU Settlement Resolution Centre telephone service had closed due to coronavirus but has now reopened: https://www.gov.uk/contact-ukvi-inside-outside-uk/y/inside-the-uk/eu-settlement-scheme-settled-and-pre-settled-status

Jobs that qualify for Covid-19 travel restrictions: Coronavirus (COVID-19): jobs that qualify for travel exemptions – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


Covid-19 Guidance from NHS & GOV.UK

COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 (Roadmap)

Guidance on getting support if you’re a migrant living in the UK: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-get-support-if-youre-a-migrant-living-in-the-uk

Public Health England migrant health guide:

https://www.gov.uk/topic/health-protection/migrant-health-guide

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

Coronavirus testing and treatment: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-entitlements-migrant-health-guide#main-messages. Includes the following guidance:

Message that COVID-19 testing & treatment is free of charge, irrespective of immigration status, translated into 40 languages: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-entitlements-migrant-health-guide#main-messages

MHCLG External Affairs: Latest Covid-19 communications/Vaccines materials.

COVID-19 Vaccines – Top lines and Q&A

Face coverings protect those around you and will help slow the spread of the virus. If you have COVID-19 without any symptoms and are not wearing a face covering, the risk of spreading it to others nearby can be as high as 70%. If you do wear a face covering, it drops to 5%. Remember, if you develop symptoms you should remain at home, self-isolate and book a test as soon as you can.

Who shouldn’t wear one?

The Government has made it mandatory to wear a face covering on all public transport and in shops in England. If you can wear a face covering but choose not to then you may be given a fine of £200 or refused entry/service.

There are some people who should not wear a face covering, they are: 

people who have trouble breathing 

children under 3 years old (there are certain exceptions based on age, for example, under 11s do not need to wear a face covering on public transport and in other mandatory places, read the Government guidance


Guidance about how to get help if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse in Arabic, Bengali, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Mandarin, Polish, Romanian, Spanish, Punjabi, Somali, Tamil and Urdu: Domestic abuse: get help during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak (translations and easy read version) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

First responder guidance for Border Force, Immigration Enforcement (IE) and the National Asylum Intake Unit (NAIU) and others who may have close contact with individuals who may have COVID-19: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-border-force-staff-guidance

Collection of guidance for local authority children’s services: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-authority-childrens-services-coronavirus-covid-19 .

Includes (amongst other guidance) guidance on children’s social care featuring sections on UASC and care leavers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-childrens-social-care-services/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-local-authorities-on-childrens-social-care#unaccompanied-asylum-seeking-children-uasc   

Department for Education advice pack for care leavers during and after COVID-19 published on the Care Leaver Covenant website:  https://indd.adobe.com/view/75e4fb6d-61c2-44f4-98a8-f4c523fa3672 . A factsheet for UASC begins on page 20. Although the pack refers to advice for care leavers, the UASC factsheet is relevant to young people who are currently looked after, as well as to care leavers.

Guidance for schools and other educational settings: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings .

Includes (amongst other guidance) free school meals guidance including guidance on the temporary extension of eligibility for free school meals to NRPF groups: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance

For information on DWP Services and coronavirus see: https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/ This states that you do not need to attend the jobcentre unless you are asked to do so. If you need to contact the jobcentre the quickest way to do this is online or by phone. If you need to attend a jobcentre, they are open and someone will be able to assist you. Please wear a face covering when entering a jobcentre.

Individuals do not need a National Insurance Number to apply for benefits or a job. Individuals can start work without a National Insurance Number as long as they have the right to work in the UK and employers have information to allow them to do this.

If you’re not able to register the birth of your child because of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can still make a claim to receive Child Benefit: https://www.gov.uk/child-benefit/how-to-claim

Flyer on eligibility for free school meals produced by Project 17, UK Sustain and Hackney Migrant Centre: https://hackneymigrantcentre.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Free-School-Meals-Info-Sheet-June-2020.pdf


Updates and resources from the migration sector

UNHCR UK’s Legal Protection Unit can be contacted at any time via email on gbrlo@unhcr.org or via their switchboard at 0203 761 9500 from 09:00-17:00 Monday to Thursday and 09:00 – 15:00 on Fridays: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/unhcr-uk-faqs-on-covid-19-in-relation-to-refugees-and-asylum-seekers.html

Migration Policy and Practice has collated information on the operational status of its partners in Birmingham and the Black Country: http://migrationpolicy.org.uk/covid-19-support/. Organisations included are:

ASIRT

Baobab Women’s Project

BIRCH Network

Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid

British Red Cross

Brushstrokes

Central England Law Centre

Entraide

Hope Projects

Migrant Voice

Refugee Action

Refugee and Migrant Centre (Birmingham and Black Country)

Restore

St Chad’s Sanctuary

General support for refugees & migrants:

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Covid-19 Migrant Information Service, an online platform that provides information on COVID-19 measures and support in the UK: https://covid19uk.iom.int/ Information is available in an expanding range of languages and relates to five key areas of life that have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 emergency: Health, Employment, Benefits, Housing, and Immigration.

Refugee Action Coronavirus Asylum Handbook https://www.coronavirusasylumhandbook.com/home and Good Practice website and newsletter https://www.ragp.org.uk/. (Visit the website to sign up to the newsletter).

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

British Red Cross resources including an Emergency Contact Card and list of hints and tips to help prevent the loss of contact between family members and maintain family links during the Covid-19 emergency: https://www.redcross.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/uk-emergency-response/coronavirus

Barnardo’s have released some useful information for black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups:

Equality and Inclusion Partnership, Warwickshire, has a range of coronavirus-related resources on its website: https://www.equipequality.org.uk/covid-19-updates.

Immigration & asylum system:

Free Movement:https://www.freemovement.org.uk/coronavirus/

Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association: https://ilpa.org.uk/category/coronavirus-resources/

Refugee Council:https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/latest/news/changes-to-home-office-asylum-resettlement-policy-and-practice-in-response-to-covid-19/

Right to Remain

Changes to asylum process due to COVID-19: https://righttoremain.org.uk/changes-to-the-asylum-process-due-to-covid-19/

Asylum Navigation Board: https://righttoremain.org.uk/asylum-navigation-board/ (designed to help people understand the UK asylum system, in multiple languages)

UNHCR UK’s FAQs on COVID-19 in relation to refugees and asylum seekers: https://www.unhcr.org/uk/unhcr-uk-faqs-on-covid-19-in-relation-to-refugees-and-asylum-seekers.html

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

RESET UK’s page on COVID-19 for community sponsorship groups supporting resettled refugees: https://www.resetuk.org/covid-19-support

NACCOM coronavirus resources: https://naccom.org.uk/resources/

Housing Rights Information’s page on ‘Coronavirus – how does it affect migrants’ access to housing and benefits?’: https://www.housing-rights.info/coronavirus.php

Flyer on eligibility for free school meals produced by Project 17, UK Sustain and Hackney Migrant Centre: https://hackneymigrantcentre.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Free-School-Meals-Info-Sheet-June-2020.pdf

Miniila app, developed by the Refugee Council and Missing Children Europe to help unaccompanied children and young adults across Europe connect to services that support them.  Not-for-profit services can upload their details to the app.  For more information, visit the website http://miniila.com/ and/or email Miniila.Project@refugeecouncil.org.uk

MiCLU: https://miclu.org/covid-19-resources-for-partners (London focus but many useful resources for people working with refugee and migrant children anywhere)

Off the Record resources for coping with COVID-19: https://www.talkofftherecord.org/coping-with-covid-19/ (counselling service is for young refugees in London but online resources- including translated resources- can be accessed by everyone)

Hope for the Young emergency fund for young asylum seekers or refugees aged 16-30, who are vulnerable and in need of immediate financial support during the pandemic: https://hopefortheyoung.org.uk/covid-19-emergency-relief-fund/

Other regions:

East Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership: https://www.emcouncils.gov.uk/COVID-19

London: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/eu-londoners-hub/information-covid-19-non-uk-nationals

Migration Yorkshire: https://www.migrantinfohub.co.uk/

North West Strategic Migration Partnership: https://northwestrsmp.org.uk/coronavirus/

ESOL and education

BBC Learning English: https://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/

Flash Academy: https://flashacademy.com/

English My Way: https://www.englishmyway.co.uk/

OneStopEnglish: http://www.onestopenglish.com/esol/

Little Bridge (www.littlebridge.com) is offering free online ESOL training that 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.

Code Your Future are offering free online training on computer programming to refugees, asylum seekers and people from other disadvantaged groups. They can offer support with WIFI, laptops and childcare. Once in-person classes in Birmingham start again they can also offer support with transportation for those in the West Midlands Combined Authority area. Those from outside that area can still access the Birmingham training, just not the transportation support. Check the website and apply to access the training here https://codeyourfuture.io/become-a-student/ You can also contact aaishah@codeyourfuture.io for further information.

Big Leaf Foundation is inviting organisations and charities that support young refugees and asylum seekers to get in touch if they would like to access some of Big Leaf’s online learning resources to share with beneficiaries. Contact them on contact@bigleaffoundation.org.uk and find out more about them here https://www.bigleaffoundation.org.uk/keep-talking.html

National

The British Red Cross are acting as a single point of contact between the Home Office and NGOs/charities that support refugees and people seeking asylum. For more information about this process and to sign-up to receive updates, please contact Jon Featonby jfeatonby@redcross.org.uk.

The British Red Cross and UKLGIG have also set up two dedicated Google Groups to coordinate action, raise issues and share ideas around the sector’s response to Covid-19. You can request to join the Groups at the links below: 

Policy Google Group – https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/covid19policy

Operations Google Group – https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/covid19operations

Local

Andy Hoole (Migration Policy & Practice) hosts a Friday dial-in on Covid-19 and migration issues for 3rd sector organisations in the Birmingham and Black Country area. For further information email andy@migrationpolicy.org.uk


[Last updated on 18/03/2021]