New IOM Service Provides Migrants in the UK with Essential COVID-19 Information
London – The COVID-19 pandemic, and the various measures the government has taken to combat it, has changed almost every aspect of life for people living in the UK, including the country’s diverse migrant community.
All people are having to adjust, yet migrants’ livelihoods are often at greater risk in this crisis for several reasons, according to Dipti Pardeshi, Chief of IOM’s office in the UK.
“Migrants are more likely to be working in sectors most affected by the crisis, such as hospitality and retail. They are also more likely to be self-employed and in temporary work,” said Pardeshi. “Furthermore, migrants are more likely to be in rented accommodation, which puts them at risk of eviction if they have lost their income due to the crisis.”
The UK government has issued detailed information and guidance about the virus and the ways it is working to control it. The government also has introduced widespread measures to provide people with support during the crisis, such as its job retention and self-employed schemes
“The official guidance has been a lifeline, but many migrants struggle to access and understand the information, and some have difficulty navigating the support systems that have been put in place,” Pardeshi explained.
Other migrants face barriers accessing some elements of this support due to their visa conditions or their immigration status, which may limit their access to the country’s social safety net and put them at greater risk of hardship and destitution.
IOM has designed a COVID-19 Migrant Information Service to provide extra support to migrants in this challenging context. The info service includes a multilingual website and a telephone service which provides information to migrants living in the UK on five key topics: health, work, benefits, visas and immigration, housing and homelessness.
The website also provides a comprehensive overview of the various governmental and non-governmental support schemes that are available to migrants. Finally, it provides signposted information for users to access further information and/or begin their process of accessing support.
The website is currently available in seven languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Albanian, Romanian and Arabic, (with Polish and Vietnamese soon to be added. The telephone service provides information to callers in any language and is available on Freephone 0800 464 3380.
For more information please contact Abir Soleiman, IOM UK, Tel: +44 74 701 95306, Email: [email protected]