18 March, 2020 - By Leyla Williams

Statement from West London Welcome – COVID-19

Like other refugee and migrant support drop-ins within London and across the country, we are concerned for the wellbeing of all those we support and work with at this very challenging time. We are in discussion with a number of other organisations to ensure we are taking the right steps to protect the safety and public health of our visitors, staff and volunteers, and to do everything we can to continue fulfilling the aims of West London Welcome during the Coronavirus pandemic: building a safe, positive experience of community with the refugees and migrants who we support with friendship, advice, and education.

We are currently operating a pared-down drop-in service at West London Welcome in light of the pandemic. Government and public health guidance is changing very quickly, and so our current operating strategy may need to change again soon, but as of this week we are running the following service:

West London Welcome drop-in service on Thursday 19th March

  • We will be open 12pm – 2pm for existing visitors to use our foodbank and for those with no recourse to public funds to receive travel expenses; we are closed to new visitors.
  • No face-to-face classes, legal or general advice sessions, social time, creche, or hot lunch will be provided in order that we can adhere to public health guidelines.
  • Nobody presenting with Coronavirus symptoms, or living with someone presenting with symptoms, should attend the drop-in.
  • We are putting in place strict social distancing rules and precautions to adhere by public health guidelines and minimise the health risk to those visiting and helping at the foodbank, which will include people thoroughly washing hands before using the foodbank, standing at least a metre away from one another, not making physical contact, and staff and volunteers wearing masks and gloves.
  • Legal and general advice, including casework support, will be given over the phone for existing visitors.

Starting from next week, we hope to start running our English and other creative classes through digital means. We will be reviewing whether we can continue running our pared-down in-person service according to changing government and NHS guidance. Regardless of whether our in-person services will be able to continue, we will be doing our utmost to ensure our visitors get all the support they need throughout the pandemic.

We are joining efforts with others in the refugee and migrant sector to call for the Home Secretary to make urgent changes to ensure the safety of migrants in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. You can read a letter sent to the Home Secretary this week by JCWI, Medact, Liberty, and signed by ourselves, here.

Wishing all of our community and beyond our very best. We are extremely grateful to be working with and alongside such dedicated colleagues in the sector at this time, who are doing all they can to support some of the most vulnerable people in the city.