Wisbech like a number of towns has been selected to host asylum seekers as they await a chance to present their case to be recognised as refugees and begin the road towards a permanent home in the UK.
The Rose and Crown is an iconic historic coaching inn in the centre of town and was recently bought by a Egyptian-owned hotel chain. All intoxicating drinks were cleared from the shelves and very recently it has become a home for 20 mainly young men and their minders.
Sean, who is Chair of Wisbech Interfaith Forum, said: “These people came over in small boats, from maybe Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq. It has been extremely difficult to gain information on the plans for the residents and the building. A small number of us have sought to learn if the young men have needs that are not currently being met. At present they are fed and housed and given £8 per week for other needs. They can go out in the community.
“Locals cannot visit them or take them out. However if we meet them in the street we can interact! We have managed to establish that they are in urgent need of winter clothing, footwear socks, underwear etc. It’s important to make it clear that with the relatively small numbers involved a large-scale clothing operation is not called for.
“Our efforts have been addressed to letting them know that people care and want to befriend them. It appears that recreational opportunities are very limited. The Rosmini Centre has now donated a table tennis table, some basketballs and footballs and also provides a safe place for the asylum seekers to join the local Muslim community for their Friday prayers.
“The local initiative is being led by a consortium of Wisbech Interfaith, with Quakers, Anglicans, the local trades council and concerned members of the public all involved.
“During our visit to the hotel last Saturday,” said Sean. “I was agreeably surprised at the sympathy extended to our guests by members of the passing public. I detected some reservation on the part of some onlookers but no open hostility.”
Pictured above are Sean Finlay and friends outside the Rose and Crown Hotel in Wisbech, which is currently housing asylum seekers.