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July 2023

This VCSE and statutory sector working group brings together a range of individuals and organisations who support asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. Like many others, members of this group have made strenuous efforts to support the large number of forced migrants who have recently arrived in the city of Brighton & Hove. A number of us have sought to alert key decisionmakers or senior people in positions of influence to the very serious health, wellbeing and safety risks to those individuals, many of whom have experienced war, violence, trafficking, sexual assault and persecution, or a combination of those. The health needs of these individuals are often very significant and complex, and, as with any other patient, timely and appropriate intervention can save lives, support community integration and avert avoidable decline in mental and physical health.

We point to the efforts of a number of voluntary and community organisations that have stepped in to provide humanitarian help, often in the face of formidable barriers, for whom funding is generally short-term or in some cases non-existent. We believe this model increases risk and does not build a sustainable model of care and integration that reduces costs to the public services over the longer term.

We do not believe policy as it is currently being implemented is acting as a deterrent to refugees arriving in the country. The evidence suggests that there is fertile ground for organised crime and people traffickers. We believe therefore that elements of the current approach could be construed as neglect. We do believe it is in the UK interest to provide safe and appropriate care and accommodation for people while their asylum claims are being assessed, as well as a range of further types of support that enable community integration.

We invite the relevant authorities to take immediate action to improve accommodation arrangements and access to urgent health, care and support services, and to end the present brutalising system, which is re-traumatising already traumatised people.

Anerley Cartlidge, Voices in Exile
Dr Andrea Cohen, Consultant Clinical Psychologist/Joint Lead for Psychology & Psychological Therapies, Brighton Assessment & Treatment Service
Emma Drew, Director, Robin Hood Health Foundation
Kaye Duerdoth, Deputy Chief Executive, Trust for Developing Communities
Dr Gemma Eke, Chartered Clinical Psychologist
Bianca Guerra, Services Manager, SJOG Modern Day Slavery and Trafficking
Jo Gough, Chief Executive Officer, Rise
Dr Becky Jarvis, GP Partner, East & Central Brighton Primary Care Network
Jess Linton, Senior Mental Health Practitioner, HCPC registered art therapist and EMDR practitioner
Dr Stuart Mitchell, Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Prof. Sally Munt, Brighton Exiled/Refugee Trauma Service
Aidan Pettitt, Chair, Sussex Interpreting Services
Stephen Silverwood, Refugee Radio
Dr Brian Solts, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Sussex Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust
Peter Sutcliffe, Operations Manager, East and Central Brighton Primary Care Network
Dr Susan Whiting, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Sussex Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust
Tim Worthley, Arch Healthcare