SIR: It is hard to think of a more unsuitable home for a vulnerable and traumatised person than a portacabin in a field next to the A303 near Barton Stacey (Chronicle, December 10).

People seeking asylum wait many months or even years for a decision to be taken on their asylum case. They have often suffered horrific violence, torture and imprisonment, and have fled conflict in their homeland and experienced trauma on their journey to the UK. When those seeking asylum live in the UK, they need to be able to access legal support and medical and mental health facilities locally. They will want to use libraries, have English classes and get to know their local area. Instead, it looks like the nearest facilities for the Barton Stacey camp will be a 14-mile return trip on foot to Andover via the A303. Those seeing asylum need opportunities to help them settle into a local community.

The Home Office needs to address a massive backlog of cases and meanwhile grant people waiting more than six months the right to work in the UK so that they can use their skills to contribute to society. The government needs to work towards creating a fair and effective asylum system based on humanity, compassion and the rule of law.

Organisations such as Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group work with asylum seekers and refugees locally. We appreciate the large amount of goodwill that exists for refugees, as shown by the donations of food, clothing and money that we receive from individuals and faith groups, particularly around Christmas. I appreciate that the Home Office needs to find sites to provide people with accommodation; however in my opinion the site at Barton Stacey is unlikely to be suitable due to the lack of suitable infrastructure, the isolation that people will feel there and the pressures that it might place on the local area.

Chris Stephens,


Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group