Asylum seekers have told Sky News the food they are being provided with at a hotel is making them ill with stomach problems.
And a GP we have spoken to has raised concern that some children of asylum seekers she has seen are not gaining weight properly because of what they are being given to eat.
It comes amid concerns raised about severe overcrowding at the Manston processing centre in Kent and the general treatment of asylum seekers – as Home Office minister Chris Philp said people who had come into the country had “a cheek” to complain about the conditions they were facing.
We arranged to meet a group of asylum seekers in a Gloucestershire park to hear their concerns.
We first spoke to an Iranian woman who wanted to remain anonymous.
She said: “They (her children) need fresh food, fresh vegetables. We don’t have any facilities in my room like a fridge or microwave.”
“It’s not good and it’s not suitable for families. This type of hotel without any facilities.”
We spoke to three other asylum seekers who were from Central America.
One said she had to flee her country in fear of powerful drugs gangs.
But she said although she felt safe in the UK she felt the process of claiming asylum was “hard”.
They shared videos with us of the food they say they were given which was mouldy, rotten and not cooked properly.
Sky News spoke to the caterers who said complaints will be taken seriously.
The asylum seeker said: “In my case I’ve spent a lot of days without breakfast, lunch or dinner because I was looking down and I saw this kind of food and I prefer not to eat as every time that I eat that I have diarrhoea or stomach ache.”
‘Real cause for concern’
The asylum seekers are among several hundred GP Joan Nash has access to – she told Sky News about one in 10 have seen a doctor about stomach problems which could be linked to what they are eating.
She was also concerned about some children of asylum seekers she sees who are not putting on weight.
Dr Nash said: “The weight of the children is a real cause for concern
“Of the children that we have weighed – two-thirds of them since arrival have either stayed the same or have actually lost weight.
“That’s really alarming and really unusual in children. This is over a six, seven-month period.”
The Home Office says food provided in asylum hotels meets all NHS standards and concerns will be addressed.
There are currently 37,000 asylum seekers in hotels, which is costing taxpayers £5.6m a day.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Asylum seekers in hotels are provided with three meals a day, as well as a weekly allowance and additional provisions for families with a baby or toddler.
“The food provided in asylum hotels meets all the NHS Eatwell standards as well as responding to all cultural and dietary requirements.
“Where concerns are raised about any aspect of the service delivered in a hotel we work with the provider to ensure these concerns are addressed, while asylum seekers have access to 24/7 helpline to raise any concerns they have and are able to make formal complaints which will always be followed up.”