Initial Accommodations Centres are hostels or lodgings for people who have asked for asylum and do not have funds to support themselves. In Wakefield, the Initial Accommodation Centre (IAC) is called Urban House.
Urban House provides family rooms for families and shared rooms for individuals. Men’s and women’s rooms are on separate corridors; each of the corridors has toilets and showers. Urban Housing provides bedding, towels, basic toiletries, washing facilities for clothes, and all meals. Meals are cooked on the premises by catering staff.
At Urban House, there is a communal dining hall, individual social rooms for men and women, a family TV room, a classroom, a quiet room and a playroom. The classroom, quiet room and playroom are opened on a sessional basis. Outside groups run various social sessions at Urban House and there is a Volunteer Coordinator who programmes sessions.
Whilst staying at Urban House asylum seekers have access to Asylum Help, which has an office and caseworkers at Urban House, and is a part of Migrant Help. Migrant Help provide information on the asylum process to asylum seekers. People can contact Migrant Help through a Freephone helpline. The helpline offers information in a wide range of languages – however, there is often a long wait for calls to be dealt with.
South West Yorkshire Trust (SWYT) NHS has a nurse’s office at Urban House, and is open Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. The service includes nursing staff and a prescribing nurse. Whilst at Urban House asylum seekers are offered health checks and basic medical needs are dealt with. People are only at the IAC for a short time and are not registered with a GP in Wakefield. Once people are dispersed to other areas they are registered with GP; their medical information is sent to the GP, and if they need specialist treatment or to see a consultant, the GP will make arrangements. If there is a medical emergency whilst people are at Urban House, normal procedures apply.
The Urban Housing, Asylum Help and the Health staff do everything they can to be welcoming and supportive. However, though the Home Office offers asylum, at times state policies creates a hostile environment.
NOTE: This is an informational article about Urban House. We are a separate charity organisation. If you need to contact Urban House, please do not attempt this using our contact email address, as it will not reach Urban Housing.