Offa House refugee plan scrapped ‘in favour of asylum seekers’

Offa House. Picture from the Diocese of Coventry
Offa House. Picture from the Diocese of Coventry

Offa House will no longer be considered as a temporary home for refugees - but could instead help women seeking asylum in the UK.

Plans for the former retreat house in Offchurch to be used as a short term base for 27 Syrian refugees were scrapped after a government decision that they should instead go straight into permanent hosing.

I am sorry to say that the Home Office no longer has the need to use Offa House as short-term accommodation for Syrian refugees

Bishop, Christopher

But the space may still welcome people in need after the Home Office announced it wanted to use the site as a safe haven for single woman and mothers with young children seeking asylum in the UK.

The Diocese of Coventry which owns the Grade II listed house are now in ongoing discussions to try and agree a way forward - but only one which gets support from villagers.

The Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry, announced his “disappointment” over the news at an open meeting this month but assured work is ongoing.

Bishop Christoper said: “I am sorry to say that the Home Office no longer has the need to use Offa House as short-term accommodation for Syrian refugees.

“For the past six months, discussions with the Home Office have been our only focus. From now it will be our primary focus, but we will also be actively pursuing three other options.”

If approved, the asylum plans would mean housing people for several months rather than just 10 days, and the site would be managed by company, G4S.

A diocesan spokesperson said “some significant questions” need to be addressed before they are willing to pursue the plans, including feedback from villagers and what funding might be necessary.

The church will also look at working with a charity partner to make use of the 27-bedroom site; of reopening it as a church retreat; and again trying to sell the building.

Residents are urged to submit views to the Bishop via www.dioceseofcoventry.org.