MSF team provides mental health support to asylum seekers housed in Napier Barracks and hotels
Following an assessment, a small Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) team of cultural mediators and mental health professionals have begun conducting group psycho-education sessions near Napier Barracks, with plans to begin a mental health phone line and individual counselling sessions in the coming weeks.
The barracks, in Folkestone, Kent, are a decommissioned military camp that the UK government began using to house asylum seekers in September 2020.
Since then, serious concerns have been raised about the conditions inside and the impact on people's mental health, with men currently sleeping in dormitories with up to 12 other individuals.
In March 2021, a physical inspection was performed and a report submitted by the ICIBI (Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration) heavily condemning Napier Barracks, stating it was not fit to accommodate asylum seekers.
The MSF team is also looking into securing access to the Crowne Plaza hotel and other locations where asylum seekers are housed due to concerns about their mental health after all they have been through, and the persistent uncertainties about their future, combined with the isolation that hotel accommodation brings.