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Former Norfolk RAF base used to temporarily house asylum seekers

PUBLISHED: 16:28 22 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:23 22 April 2020

Security warning signs up on new fencing at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall which is being used to house people during the Coronavirus outbreak
Picture:  Neil Perry / Archant

Security warning signs up on new fencing at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall which is being used to house people during the Coronavirus outbreak Picture: Neil Perry / Archant

Archant

A former RAF base in Norfolk is being used to provide temporary housing for asylum seekers who have fled war-torn countries.

The old officers’ mess at RAF Coltishall, which was used by fighter pilots during the Second World War, is being used to temporarily house asylum seekers - thought to be from Iraq and Iran - during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Home Office said the move was “to help in the fight against coronavirus”.

Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are given free, furnished accommodation by the government while their applications are considered.

However, during the pandemic, the government will continue to house those who would otherwise have had their support stopped, due to their claims being rejected.

Padlocks on security fencing at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall which is being used to house people during the Coronavirus outbreak
Picture:  Neil Perry / ArchantPadlocks on security fencing at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall which is being used to house people during the Coronavirus outbreak Picture: Neil Perry / Archant

READ MORE: Homeless families to be housed at former RAF Coltishall officers’ mess

A spokesman said the department was working with local authorities to identify additional facilities where asylum seekers could be safely housed and that the measures would be reviewed before the end of June.

One resident, who lives near the base, said: “I do feel for the people there. They are displaced from war-torn countries.”

The Home Office spokesman said: “This is a temporary measure to help in the fight against coronavirus.

The Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall which is being used to house people during the Coronavirus outbreak
Picture:  Neil Perry / ArchantThe Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall which is being used to house people during the Coronavirus outbreak Picture: Neil Perry / Archant

“Like the rest of the country, asylum seekers are being asked to stay in their accommodation which has increased the amount needed.”

He added: “Our providers, in consultation with local authorities, are identifying additional facilities that can be used for this purpose.”

READ MORE: Temporary mortuary in former RAF base hangar as Norfolk coronavirus deaths set to rise

It comes the week after a temporary mortuary was created in an aircraft hangar at the base, amid predictions the UK could be set to hit the peak of the virus.

CCTV warning sign at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall which is being used to house people during the Coronavirus outbreak
Picture:  Neil Perry / ArchantCCTV warning sign at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall which is being used to house people during the Coronavirus outbreak Picture: Neil Perry / Archant

And it follows the news that Broadland Council would offer people in insecure housing accommodation in the former officers’ mess.

The accommodation block is run by a charity which provides religious retreats, and the council confirmed everyone housed there during the outbreak would be found suitable longer-term housing after the lockdown restrictions were lifted.

Speaking ahead of the council moving in the first of its temporary residents, Phil Courtier, Broadland Council’s director of place, said: “It is our duty to find suitable accommodation for people who have nowhere else to live.”


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