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What it’s like to try and self-isolate in asylum housing

‘Mamma M’ is an asylum seeker living in emergency accommodation, where her family must share the kitchen and bathroom. She explains why self-isolation is impossible, and fears for who will look after her children if she gets sick

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The shared bathroom in Mamma M’s emergency accommodation
The shared bathroom in Mamma M’s emergency accommodation
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Mamma M explains what it is like to try and stay healthy in shared accommodation for asylum seekers #ukhousing @magpieprojectuk

“All of us are forced to stay at home, destitute and worried for our families’ health, when we could be a massive benefit to this country,” says Mamma M from @magpieprojectuk #ukhousing

I am an asylum seeker. When I arrived in the UK in October 2018, I was pregnant and had two children with me. I was fleeing a situation so catastrophic that I do not wish to remember that time. I want to move forward. I applied for asylum as soon as I arrived.

“I live in one room in shared accommodation with my three children”

Since them I have completed my asylum interviews but, unfortunately, I haven’t heard back from the Home Office. I am in limbo. I live in one room in shared accommodation with my three children.

Any parent can imagine the difficulty living, learning and sleeping in these conditions. This situation is really affecting our mental health and well-being.


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My doctor has already given me a letter to send to the Home Office through my solicitor, saying that my living condition is causing me “undue distress and anxiety”.

“I have not heard anything from our building manager or from the Home Office about the crisis”

I am suffering from sleep deprivation. My child’s school support practitioner has also testified how important it is that the children have some stability for their learning and well-being.

So things were a struggle before the COVID-19 crisis. I was surviving – barely, but surviving.

I am not able to self-isolate in shared accommodation with a shared kitchen and toilet. It doesn’t work at all.

What will happen to my kids if I get sick?

I have not heard anything from our building manager or from the Home Office about the crisis.

My anxiety and stress is through the roof with this additional worry about my family’s health.

We simply need a self-contained place to keep healthy.

I am also concerned that our food supplies will run out.

Because we receive our NASS support payment of £37 per person at the beginning of every week, we are unable to buy, store or stockpile food.

“We are trained doctors, emergency response workers, educators, and more. All of us are forced to stay at home, destitute and worried for our families’ health”

Luckily, we are supported by a charity called The Magpie Project, which has been providing weekly food bags and nappies.

But they also, most importantly, support us emotionally by connecting us with other mums through a fantastic WhatsApp group. We can join a positive place to share ideas, ask for help or talk to other Magpie mums.

We – as mums – are trying to survive and keep our children safe.

But if the country gave us the support we need, we could do more. We could actually also volunteer to help this country and people in need by giving the skills we have. In our Magpie group there are trained doctors, emergency response workers, educators, and more.

All of us are forced to stay at home, destitute and worried for our families’ health, when we could be a massive benefit to this country.

If this crisis proves anything it is that we are all connected – my children are your children and vice versa.

I would beg you to:

  1. Move us in to self-contained accommodation.

  2. Lift our no recourse to public funds and no work condition.

  3. Let us live, let us help!

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