THE accommodation more often than not leaves a lot to be desired.

I am not the only person working within the third sector that thought maybe we were turning a corner in how we were supporting some of the most vulnerable members of society. Homeless accommodation moving into hotel accommodation so that social distancing guidelines can be complied with, sounds like a positive change but like most things, when you look more closely maybe nothing has changed at all.

I spoke with H (Name has been changed to protect individual) who had recently been moved from a serviced apartment into a hotel just outside the city centre. He sounds flat. Most people who have experience of our asylum systems sound flat but this flat has an added level of confusion and fear. Whilst we have all experienced huge changes as a result of coronavirus and many of us have seen the virus used as an excuse, there are few who have borne the brunt of those changes in the way that the homeless and the vulnerable have. We are far from being in this together. Our experiences of this are worlds apart.

H tells me that he was sent a letter explaining only that he was being moved the following day. This is pretty standard for someone seeking safety in the UK.

At any point you can be told that you are being moved to different or more permanent accommodation and very rarely are you told where your new accommodation is, it could be just round the corner or it could be in a completely different part of the UK.

For H it is a move from a flat with a kitchen and cooking facilities into a hotel room with only a kettle. I first spoke to him when he requested a food and toiletry package while still in the flat. The food package contains things to make meals, pasta and rice, tinned tomatoes and vegetables. When I call to confirm delivery details he tells me he has been moved. I ask if he still needs the food to which he replies yes, telling me he is hungry but he doesn’t have anywhere to cook, he only has a kettle.

We make a new pack containing noodles and food that can be made simply by adding hot water and snacks that can be eaten as they are.

He tells me that there are meals provided at his hotel but the queueing frightens him and the food is not safe because there are many people and it is all uncovered.

What he describes is a buffet-style set-up with no-one monitoring it and people completely disregarding all guidelines around social distancing.

At the very beginning of this pandemic I remember going into the supermarket and being both pleased and impressed that they had covered and closed the pic n’ mix section that they have at the end of the aisle.

Even though I am not surprised, I am saddened by the fact that something immediately recognised as unsafe, is rolled out and considered acceptable within accommodation spaces that they think they can get away with it in. It isn’t acceptable to put people in the supermarket at risk but it is perfectly acceptable to put those in homeless accommodation or asylum accommodation at risk.

H describes how people are called for meals at different times to limit the number of people in the dining space.

While instructions have been given and measures have been put in place – strict time limits within the dining space, only having one person in the lift at a time, the practicalities of it are impossible.

Long queues form on landings, in the lobby and in the dining room. There are people everywhere.

H tells me that he only goes down now for breakfast and the rest of the day he stays in his room and eats only biscuits and super noodles.

We are failing people during this pandemic who had already been failed by unfair systems prior to it.

H is one of hundreds who have been moved from a system designed to isolate them into unsafe, undignified accommodation where they are unable to eat properly or retain any autonomy.

At a time when isolation would be preferable, we are moving people into spaces where it is impossible. This is not a coincidence.

H came here seeking safety having been forced to flee his homeland.

I do not ask him about why he had to leave because it is not my place but he tells me he has only bad memories of home and that being tortured has deleted everything happy for now.

He came here seeking safety and again he is being imprisoned.