Asylum seekers get better treatment cry

HOMELESS teenager Robert Ward, who is sleeping on the streets, claimed today that asylum seekers were shown more compassion and given more help than him.

HOMELESS teenager Robert Ward, who is sleeping on the streets, claimed today that asylum seekers were shown more compassion and given more help than him.

Unemployed Mr Ward, 19, claimed two homeless foreign nationals immediately ahead of him in the queue at Felixstowe housing office were told where to find hostel places, given contact phone numbers and a map.

But he was then told he was not classed as a vulnerable person – and there was nothing the district council's housing office could do to help.

"I have nothing against asylum seekers at all or the fact that they should receive help. What I cannot understand is why I, a British citizen without a home, could not be given help," said Mr Ward.

"I was just sent away. Not even offered a night's bed and breakfast or the chance of a hostel place, just somewhere temporary. This is my country.

"I just could not believe it. It must be the government that is at fault. Why am I being left to walk the streets?"

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Mr Ward separated from his wife Marianne in the early hours of Sunday. He left the home he shared with her – and her five children from a previous relationship – in Butley Road, Felixstowe, with nowhere to go.

Although his parents live nearby, he cannot stay with them because they have no room as he has a brother and sister still living at home.

He walked the streets until daylight and then took advice from the CAB, before going to the job centre to report his change in circumstances. He then sought help from the housing department and the Coastal Housing Action Group.

Monday night he walked the streets again, too cold and afraid to sleep.

"Then I tried the same offices again. The same answers and still no home," said Mr Ward.

"These two asylum seekers said they had only been in the country a few days. The officers rang social services, helped them find a Salvation Army hostel place, gave them a map and phone numbers.

"I was told that even though I had lived here all my life there was no help available. If I had been between 16 and 18, or had children with me, or had a disability, I would have been found a place to stay.

"But I was turfed back onto the street – no home, no money and nothing to eat."

He sought help from his parents, Sue and Alan Ward, who also live in Butley Road, where he was able to get a meal, hot bath and his clothes washed.

"He cannot stay with us because we have just not got the room. He has been married for a year and living away from us for 18 months and is independent now," said Mrs Ward.

"I think it is so unfair. There ought to be something the council can do temporarily until he sorts himself out. We can understand that the council can only do what the legislation says but the government needs to think again."

A Suffolk Coastal spokesman said the council did not deal with homeless refugees or offer them housing. They would be sent to other agencies.

Mr Ward's case was being investigated and further comment would be made later, he added.

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