NASS face fresh criticism

    The government’s programme to disperse asylum seekers is
    failing to meet their mental health needs and is inadequately
    funded, a new Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust report has revealed,
    writes Anabel Unity Sale.

    Dispersed: A study of services for asylum seekers in West
    looked at five councils in the Yorkshire and
    Humberside consortium dealing with asylum seekers. It says: “The
    level of resourcing for many services is inadequate and there is a
    lack of capacity in many arrears.” It added that the mental health
    needs of asylum seekers were often unmet.

    The report calls for the dispersal system to be much better
    resourced by the National Asylum Support Service and by all
    relevant departments. It recommended the Department of Health offer
    more targeted mental health services for asylum seekers.

    It says: “The Department of Health should provide funding and
    training to promote the provision of appropriate and accessible
    mental health services, through mainstream services and other
    targeted initiatives.”

    Melba Wilson, policy director of mental health charity Mind,
    backed the reports call for additional funding of mental health
    services for asylum seekers.

    She told Community Care: “Asylum seekers and refugees
    are very much overlooked and the result is their mental health
    needs are unmet. Mental health services need to be made more
    accessible and more appropriate for them. Agencies need to work at
    getting better understanding of cultural differences and the
    experience these people have been through.”

    She added: “Asylum seekers need to be dealt with in a very real
    and fundamental way in the statutory sector.”

    A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We provide financial
    support to voluntary sector groups who provide mental health
    services for refugees.”

    She added: “Health authorities and local authorities make their
    own arrangements to provide services. Health authority allocations
    are intended to cover the costs of local populations, and these
    include asylum seekers coming into an area.”

    Refugee Council head of policy Alison Fenney said: “We welcome
    this timely report, which clearly shows that the dispersal system
    needs to be adequately resourced by the government in order to work

    She added that similar research to that conducted in West
    Yorkshire needed to be repeated on a national level.

    Dispersed: A study of services for asylum seekers in
    West Yorkshire from 01904 627 810.





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