A UK-based church has evicted Nigerian asylum seekers from the church building for not paying rent.
All Nations Church in Hemlington, Middlesbrough, reportedly won a legal battle to remove the family of five from a four bedroom flat owned by the church
The family, who had been living in the 4-bed flat since 2006, initially paid rent but because of their asylum seeker status they had been living rent-free since 2016. The Church was started by a medical doctor from Ghana, Albert Cole.
According to reports, the church only knew about the family’s asylum seeker status two years ago when they received a letter from Middlesbrough Council. Since then, they had not charged the tenants rent or for utilities since they are not allowed to do so to asylum seekers.
The church said it tried to reach a compromise with the family but didn’t succeed.
“I ask what wrong did we do?” the family told Teeside Live . “But we won’t give up. We know that God will deliver.”
There were mixed reactions by church members over the decision of the Church to evict the asylum seekers. One of the Church members told Teeside Live that the decision had “saddened and sickened” her. She said the church was “turning its back” on the family.
“We have bent over backwards to help them and this is the last resort,” pastor Ian Rowland told Teeside Live.
“We wanted to help and support them but two and a half years is a long time.”
Critics of the church said the eviction will leave the family homeless but Rowland maintains that they can access help from other sources.
“It’s been two and a half years we have been doing this. There has been an incredible amount of generosity and compassion. It’s difficult for them. They are a family with children. It’s difficult for us as a church because churches are here to bless.
“But we can’t keep doing this. There are other agencies they can access.”