Faiths in close quarters

This letter, sent by one of our council members, has been published by the Church Times this week.  We hope it will encourage more people to lobby their MPs to change the rules on forced sharing of bedrooms by unrelated adults.  Maybe others can contact other Faith Publications.

Peace amongst nations is surely high in our minds at the present time.

We have a microcosm of this amongst our asylum seeking communities, where people live and associate together, in peace. Many are people of strong faith, and it shows in how they manage this. Here in Stockton we have people from many parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Indian sub continent, as well as Albania and China.

People are allocated shared houses, which means shared kitchens and bathrooms, with no regard for common language, culture, country or faith. It can be difficult as one man said “In my house there are 7 Muslim men and I am a Christian. It makes it very difficult for me being different all the time, I cannot share anything with them, and there is nowhere for me to be on my own as I have to share a room”. There is the situation vice versa as well of course.

Even worse many people have forced sharing of bedrooms with no commonality at all. It is a small space, and not for overnight or a few weeks, but can be years. To quote two people:

“I am from Iran, and fled here because of the Arab Iraqis but I have to share with one, and it makes me frightened”.

I share with a Muslim man, we get on OK, but it is difficult to share with someone with a completely different background and faith. We do try but have no common language”.

The Home Office is in the process of letting the new 10 year contract for housing provision for asylum seekers, and such shared bedrooms will continue apart from those deemed by the Home Office (with no definition) as “vulnerable”.

Can I urge readers who live in areas where asylum seekers are dispersed to contact their MPs of whatever party to urgently intervene before the contract is actually let.