Tuesday 07 April 2020

COVID-19 Resources and Guidance

This page contains information on COVID-19 in relation to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in the East Midlands, as well as those working with and supporting them. Please be advised that this is not a comprehensive and up-to-date source of information, however EMSMP team are working to update the information as often as possible. We do advise people to check national websites such as, NHSGOV.UK, Public Health EnglandLocal Government Association.

This page was last edited on 7th April 2020.

Government Announcements:

Asylum 

[added 30.03]
  • All evictions and terminations of support paused for 3 months - On 27 March, the Home Office announced that for the next three months, people will not be asked to leave their asylum accommodation. This applies to both people whose asylum cases are refused and those who are granted status. This was announced by a letter to the British Red Cross.
[added 27.03]
  • The First-Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) announced that all hearings up to 30th April 2020 will be converted to Case Management Hearings (CMR) via telephone or Skype which will take place on the original hearing date in a time slot to be allocated. More information on this can be found here.
[added 25.03]
  • Voluntary Returns Service— The Home Office have decided to currently cease offering assisted returns at the time, due to difficulties of assisting returns as well as the infrastructure, it has made it become impossible to offer the level of support needed at this time. They will however continue to register an interest from people who wish to return, and to offer other levels of support to help as many people as they possibly can, including arranging flights, get travel documents etc. and to talk through the offer on an individual basis. Furhter information and how to be in touch can be accessed here
  • Section 95 support - Due to the current Covid19 pandemic, there has been a pause in face to face substantive asylum interviews. There are likely to be delays in initial decision-making and in asylum appeals taking place. Therefore people may remain entitled to s95 support for longer. Those that do lose their asylum appeals should remain on support as, due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is impossible for them to leave the UK. In the event that they do receive notification that their s95 support is being discontinued, they should immediately apply for s4 support. Further details can be found here .
  • Asylum seekers with a fresh claim - The majority of refused asylum-seekers on s4 support have outstanding fresh claims as it has long been established that it is not reasonable to be expected to leave the UK when waiting for a decision on a fresh claim. The Further Submissions Unit has closed to face to face further submissions appointments and it is now possible to send the further submissions in post. More information can be found here
  • UKVI Reporting and Offender Management (ROM) Team have now confirmed reporting frequencies for reportees in light of the COVID-19 developing situation.  The decision taken is that they will initially suspend reporting for all reportees and an SMS message will be sent out to reportees shortly advising them of this. The agreement is that reporting will be suspended for Non FNO’s for 3 months.  For FNO’s, they will all be moved to monthly reporting. They will then, via SMS, inform reportees of the change to their reporting and when they should next report.

EUSS Settlement Scheme

[added 01.04]
  • The AIRE Centre's has launched a Settlement Guide for vulnerable young people which aims is to assist vulnerable young people, including those in care or who have recently left care to apply for EUSS. It includes explanations about what EUSS is, how to apply and a short quiz which gives a decision about what status they might have. Click here to access
[added 30.03]
  • Settlement Resolution Centre (SRC) The SRC will no longer be answering telephone calls. It will, however, continue to respond to email enquiries and provide a call back function when required. Emails from support organisations will be prioritised where possible. To ask questions or if you have a query, click here.
  • ID document scanners - all locations have been suspended at this time due to the latest Public Health England advice.
  • Postal route for submitting Identity evidence - The postal route for submitting identity evidence is also currently suspended. We are unable to accept any documents by post at this time, but all documents already sent to us will be returned as quickly as possible. Applications can still be made online using the “EU Exit ID Document check app”.
  • 57 grant funded voluntary and community sector organisationsSome services have been suspended but organisations are seeking to provide support in other ways, in line with social distancing guidance, for example via telephone and online. Please check with the individual organisations for further details. 
  • Additional support is available to those EU citizens in the UK who do not have the appropriate access, skills or confidence to apply online through Assisted Digital, which can offer assistance over the phone. More information can be found here.
  • Translated communications material - in 26 different languages can be accessed here. Alternative formats can also be requested.
[added 25.03]
  • The Home Office’s EU Settlement Resolution Centre telephone lines are currently closed in the light of the coronavirus outbreak, however the Home Office can be contacted via online email enquiry form. The Settlement Resolution Centre is providing an automated message to state that they will open the line again once they are able to do this safely.  Many ID scanning services have also been suspended, so it is advised to contact the service before attending by clicking here
  • Many organisations supporting people to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme have had to cancel their face-to-face outreach activities, but many organisations are still providing advice via phone or email. To find an organisation near you, click here.

Modern Slavery:

[added 06.04]
  • Support for modern slavery victims affected by coronavirus - The government have announced immediate changes for people in the modern slavery victim care contract. Those in government-funded safe accommodation are allowed to stay-in for the next three months rather than being moved on after 45 days. Click here for further information. 

No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)

[added 01.04]
  • The NRPF Network have provided a factsheet for councils on supporting people with no recourse to public funds during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, which includes details on support for people with NRPF from homelessness services to social services' support, rights and entitlements of people with NRPF, as well as Home Office support and updates on changes to the process. This can be accessed here.
[added 25.03]
  •  The NRPF Network have a section on their website on their update for NRPF services. Click here to access their current update.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC)

[added 06.04]
  • Guidance for local authorities on children’s social care, including UASC and care leavers - This guidance by DfE covers guidance for UASC on where can symptomatic UASC self-isolate, what is being done to increase capacity for UASC self-isolation, as well as who has legal responsibility for UASC in self-isolation accommodation. To access the guidance, click here.

[added 25.03]
  • Letter to Directors of Children’s Services regarding local authorities’ duties towards unaccompanied asylum seeking children can be downloaded here .

Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS)

  • IOM and UNHCR announce temporary suspension of resettlement travel for refugees. As countries drastically reduce entry into their territories owing to the COVID-19 global health crisis, and restrictions around international air travel are introduced, travel arrangements for resettling refugees are currently subject to severe disruptions. For more information, you can find the announcement here.

Other:

[added 02.04]
  • Additional emergency funding for local government announced - On 19 March 2020, the government announced £1.6 billion of additional funding for local government to help them respond to coronavirus (COVID-19) pressures across all the services they deliver. This document sets out the allocations for local authorities, which can be accessed here.
[added 01.04]
  • NHS frontline workers visas extended so they can focus on fighting coronavirus - Doctors, nurses and paramedics with visas due to expire before 1 October 2020 will have them automatically extended for one year as part of the national effort to combat coronavirus. To read more, click here.
  • Temporary changes to right to work and right to rent - the temporary changes will mean the Home Office will not require landlords and employers to see original documents and will allow checks to be undertaken over video calls. These temporary changes will mean that during the coronavirus outbreak prospective renters and workers can submit scanned documents, rather than originals, to show they have a right to rent or right to work. For more information, click here.
[added 30.03]
  • DWP National Insurance number interviews - National Insurance Number interviews are not currently taking place for 3 months effective from 17/03/2020. The DWP have advised that 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. For further information around DWP Services during this current crisis please access the Coronavirus and claiming Benefits section on Understanding Universal Credit website. 
[added 27.03]
  • Statelessness applications The Home Office are currently unable to process any statelessness applications or make any decisions on Stateless Leave applications due to capacity issues.  Statelessness interviews have also been suspended. However, online applications can still be made and the Home Office will seek to resume this work as soon as they are able to do so. For more information click here.
  • Welfare benefits - The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has also been making temporary changes to their policies regarding access to welfare benefits as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Refugee Council have provided an overview of the changes which can be accessed here, or altneratively you can visit the DWP's announcement here.
  • Government support available for landlords and renters -  The Government has amended most types of eviction notice in the social and private rented sector, so that a tenant must be given three months’ notice before any court proceedings to evict commence. This change lasts for notices issues until 30 September 2020, but that date could be amended. Alongside this, all current and upcoming eviction proceedings in the courts have been suspended so that no private or social tenant can be evicted for 90 days from 27 March 2020. More information can be accessed here.
  • Government aims to house all rough sleepers by the weekend- On the 26th March, the Government wrote to local authorities in England asking them to house all people sleeping rough, and those in hostels and night shelters, by the weekend. The letter from Luke Hall MP, the homelessness minister, is being widely interpreted to include ‘everyone’, meaning that local authorities should be finding accommodation and support for people with NRPF where they need it due to the pandemic. 
[added 26.03]
  • £2.9 billion funding to strengthen care for the vulnerable - £1.6 billion will go to local authorities to help them respond to other coronavirus (COVID-19) pressures across all the services they deliver. This includes increasing support for the adult social care workforce and for services helping the most vulnerable, including homeless people. For more information, click here.
  • Government launches Coronavirus Information Service - The GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service is an automated ‘chatbot’ service which will allow the British public to get answers to the most common questions about coronavirus direct from government. To access to the full report, click here.
[added 25.03]
  • Visas extended for those currently unable to return home due to COVID-19  - The extension was announced on 24th March by the Home Secretary Priti Patel, that will apply to anyone whose leave expired after the 24 January and who cannot leave the country because of travel restrictions or self-isolation. This will last until 31 May but will be kept under regular review in case further extensions are needed. A COVID-19 immigration team has been set up within UKVI to make the process as straightforward as possible. For more information or to for details of how to contact, please click here.
  • Legal Aid Agency contingency response—  Advice for legal aid providers setting has been set out what the Legal Aid Agency is putting in place to help them continue to provide service for their clients during COVID-19.The whole report can be found here.

ESOL

  • On Wednesday 18th March, the Prime Minister announced that schools and educations facilities will close as of, Friday 20th March, therefore the academic year's exams will not go ahead. In light of this, face-to-face ESOL classes have therefore also ceased across the country. Like other teaching, lots of the classes have continued virtually on either Zoom, Skype or othe online portals. There has been lots of resources, guidance and tips prepared to help those who are either teaching or learning ESOL, please see below; 
[added 07.04]
  • Manchester ESOL advice service - have added a new page to their website 'Learn English at home' - which gives links to useful websites and YouTube videos that learners can use to practise English. There's a drop-down menu by level where activities are broken down by topic or skill containing links to resources for that level e.g. speaking & listening, writing, grammar, vocabulary. The website can also be accessed in many different languages. Click here to access.
[added 06.04]
  • Free online ESOL resources have been helpfully collated in a post at Leeds' Migration Parternship blog for students of a range of lovels who are keen to continue their studies. It can be downloaded here .
  • Upbeat Communities are offering free sessions for asylum seekers and refugees via WhatsApp including English classes, creative activities and a weekly gathering for women all online, as well as sharing vital information in different languages and are delivering at least one session per day. For more information on this, contact Upbeat Communities by clicking here.
  • Opportunity for online learning resources for UASC - Big Leaf Foundation have launched a new project 'Keep Talking' to respond to the needs of young people during this time of isolation by putting togethe a collection of online activitie and challenges to help improve English, be creative, stay connected and ask questions. The project is only in Surrey, however they have kindly offered to share their online learning resources with organisation and charities working with young refugees/ UASC. Click here for more information and to get in touch.
[added 02.04]
  • Teach from Home - has been created as a temporary hub of information and tools to help teachers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis including how to live Q+As with your class, keeping your class engaged, how to create and online quiz and much more. To go to their website, click here.
[added 31.03]
  • ESOL for Integration Fund deadline extension - has been extended to the 7th May where councils can apply to ESOL in accessible and community locations, including Derby, Nottingham, Lincolnshire, Wellingborough and more. Click here to see if your area is eligible, or click here for more information. 
[added 30.03]
  • UPDATED version of ideas on ESOL during Covid19 which has been kindly created by the East of England Strategic Migration Partnership that contains some suggestions and ideas on learning and maintaining ESOL through the coronavirus outbreak period, as well as links to online courses. Updated information - online courses for English, links on English for Children, mental and physical health tips, as well as teaching material and guidance. This can be downloaded here .
  • OneStopEnglish have made all their resources FREE until the end of June including lesson plans, worksheets, flashcards, audio and video files covering IT in ESOL as well as pre-entry ESOL materials. Click here for further information. 
  • English My Way - have also got free resources and materials available online, especially for Pre-Entry and new reader writer learners. Their website can be found here.
[added 25.03]
  • ESOL Study at Home guidance. To download, click here .
  • BBC Learning English have a wide range of different ways to learn english, will access to 'Learn in your own language' including Mandarin, Punjabi and lots more which can be accessed here.
  • Ideas on ESOL during Covid19 which contains some suggestions and ideas on learning and maintaining ESOL through the coronavirus outbreak period, as well as links to online courses.
  • A technology list of courses available online for all different ages can be found here .

Health

[added 06.04]
  • Tips, advice and guidance on where you can get support for your mental health for young people- YoungMinds have put together an information page together with tips, advice and guidance on where you can get support for mental health during the coronavirus pandemic, including dealing with anxiety, eating disorders and low moods. This can be found here. They have also put together a help page for parents supporting children through the pandemic, which can be found here.
[added 30.03]
  • Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19) - This guide provides advice on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, including areas on how to improve your wellbeing as well as details of dealing with a mental health crisis or emergency. The guidance can be accessed here.
[added 25.03]
  • Access to Healthcare—Treatment for COVID-19 (and all communicable diseases) is free for everybody, however many migrants may not know this. There are important mechanisms of support and demands that local communities can make in order to ensure that everybody can access care. NHS have provided guidance on migrant health than can be found here.
  • Doctors of The World have shared with us COVID-19 guidance for patients produced in 21 languages: English, Albanian, Dari, French, Pashto, Portuguese, Bengali, Vietnamese, Kurdish Sorani is available at the moment, but more languages coming soon: Mandarin, Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Malayalam, Turkish, , Farsi, Amharic, Tigrinya, Somali. It is accessible here. The guidance is based on the government’s updated advice and health information and was produced in partnership with the British Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice.
  • There is also a collection of guidance for health professionals, which can be found here.

Guidance:

[added 07.04]
  • Advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residentsfor all visa customers and applicants in the UK, visa customers outside of the UK and British nationals overseas who need to apply for a passport affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus. There is now a link to a form for visa holders to update their information with the Coronavirus Immigration Team. Click here to access.
[added 06.04]
  • Coronavirus Asylum Handbook - The Refugee Action Good Practice and Partnerships Teamave developed the incredibly useful hadnbook on frontline organisations’ approaches and strategies (both immediate and longer term) to deliver support in the current context. A great resource for sharing good practice and finding out how others are tackling the barriers. To access this handbook, click here.
  • Translated guides to Zoom - have been created by Jewish Council for Racial Equality and West London Welcome which now include English, Arabic, French, Polish, Somali, Tigrinya and Kurdish. Click here to access.
[added 01.04]
  • Translated letter for at-risk patients - NHS have now uploaded translated versions of the letter to 'at risk patients' which is available in 11 different langauges and can be accessed here.
  • Stay at Home Guidance (Self isolation/ Social Distancing)- PHE produced this guidance in different languages [can be found below], but Public Health Wales have some additional formats to make the information more accessible to people who need audio-described or information in additional languages to English, using the Recite Me plug-in. Click here to access.
  • How to protect extremely vulnerable people (Shielding) - Public Health Wales have also added these additional formats to the guidance on how to protect extremely vulnerable people, which can be found here.
[added 27.03]
  • Local Government Association & Resources for Local Authorities The LGA is liaising with Public Health England (PHE), the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) regarding the evolving situation with the outbreak of the coronavirus. On these pages, you will be able to find the latest official information, as well as guidance and resources from the LGA and our key partners covering areas such as councillor resources, adult social care and support and much more. It can be found here.
[added 26.03]
  • Getting support as an extremely vulnerable person. As the link details, asylum seekers can register themselves or others can register on their behalf, which includes local authority colleagues and those within the NGO / VCS sectors as well as AASC providers. To start the registration process, click here.
  • COVID-19: guidance on residential care provision which sets out key messages to support planning and preparation in the event of an outbreak or widespread transmission of COVID-19, aimed at local authorities, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and registered providers of accommodation for people who need personal or nursing care including registered residential care and nursing homes for people with learning disabilities, mental health and/or other disabilities. For more information, click here.
  • Guidance on isolation for residential educational settings to support the management of children and young people living in children’s homes, residential special schools and colleges, other further education (FE) providers with residential accommodation, mainstream boarding schools and university halls of residence. This can be accessed here.
[added 25.03]
  • Stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection is available here, which includes information of the symptons, social distancing and self-isolation. It is available in different languages including; Arabic, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Polish, Urdu, Welsh and more. 
  • 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 is available here.
  • Guidance on immigration provisions made by the Home Office for individuals affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) can be accessed here.
  • Foreign travel advice can be found here.
  • Foreign embassies in the UK can be accessed here
  • Guidance for first responders can be accessed here, and identifys first responders as professionals and members of voluntary organisations who, as part of their normal roles, provide immediate assistance to a symptomatic person until further medical assistance arrives.
  • Guidance for employers, employees and businesses in providing advice about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19 can be found here
  • Residential care, supported living and home care guidance - information can be found here.
  • Guidance for hostel or day centres for people rough sleeping can be accesed here.
  • Guidance for local government including; the announcments of £2.9 billion funding, framework for local authorities to support the planning and organisation of the outbreak as well as further guidance. This can be accessed here.
  • Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK: Guide for Supporting Migrants During Coronavirus can be sourced here
  • Student Action for Refugees (STAR) have put together a document containing how to support refugees and asylum seekers at this time. It can be accessed here.

Training:

[added 03.04]
[added 31.03]
  • ECPAT UK have launched FREE online training sessions for professionals who are self-isolating to help build knowledge and capacity to support children who may be victims of trafficking. The first training session was held on Monday and had over 100+ attendees. Future webinars will cover vulnerabilities to exploitation among Vietnamese migrants, safeguarding children at risk of going missing from care, spiritual abuse and statutory defence (section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015). 

Other regions resources:

Other useful websites with resources on COVID-19

If you have any questions or queries in relation to this, please email Hannah.Smith@emcouncils.gov.uk