Sheffield students start petition urging for unused accommodation to be opened to refugees

Almost 600 have signed so far

A Sheffield action group has launched a petition calling for the University of Sheffield to allow homeless refugees to stay in unused student accommodation.

Student Action for Refugees (STAR) turned to the petition after their request to allow refugees access to the housing was declined by Vice-Chancellor Koen Lamberts.

Usually, refugees in Sheffield look to the charity ASSIST for help, but their access to resources has been cut due to the pandemic and all available housing through that accommodation is in use.

The call to allow the use of university accommodation comes after evictions were resumed by the Home Office on 15 September, which had been temporarily stopped to protect the poorest people from being hit harder by the financial consequences of coronavirus.

STAR predicts the majority of these refugees affected by the evictions will end up on the streets if something is not done urgently.

They said: “Coronavirus has presented many challenges for our community, and we must ensure we are able to help and assist those most vulnerable to government neglect. We urge anyone who has not read up on this issue or signed this petition to please do so, and to Koen Lamberts – we hope you choose to listen to your students and do what is right for the Sheffield community.”

A University of Sheffield spokesperson said: “We recognise this is a really important issue and are keen to do anything we can to help. Our University accommodation is currently under contract to students but we’ve been discussing this issue with ASSIST Sheffield and are raising its request with city partners to explore how we could support.”

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