Support our Nation today - please donate here

Asylum seeker free WiFi scheme scrapped

10 May 2024 4 minute read
An asylum seeker.

Emily Price

A “critically important” free WiFi scheme for asylum seekers which was funded by the Welsh Government has been scrapped.

The asylum internet project was rolled out during the Covid-19 pandemic and initially ensured asylum seekers had access to health messages and integration services which had to be delivered remotely due to restrictions.

Funding for the scheme worth £430,000 was allocated to Ready Homes  – a subsidiary of the Clearsprings Group which provides accommodation for people seeking sanctuary in Wales.

But now that the agreement has come to an end, WiFi boxes are being removed from asylum seeker accommodation.

The Welsh Government says Ready Homes had taken the decision to “withdraw from the project”.


It comes just weeks after the Welsh Government scrapped a free travel scheme to help refugees integrate more effectively into Welsh life.

Ambassadors for the Voices Network say that without WiFi and transport, asylum seekers “essentially become invisible”.

Voices Ambassadors are people with lived experience of the refugee and asylum system across Wales.

They say they were just in the process of setting up workshops with bus companies to try and resolve issues with the free travel scheme and were advocating that it should be given to people seeking asylum – being the group most in need.

The Welsh Government says its reviewing the possibility of a new free travel scheme and are also looking for SIM card alternatives for asylum seekers accessing the internet.


But Voices Ambassadors have raised concerns about asylum seekers being forced to change their telephone numbers.

A spokesperson for the Voices Network said: “The WiFi termination has now officially been shared with partners and people seeking asylum, over the last few days they’ve been removing the WiFi boxes.

“The government has been looking into alternatives such as SIM cards but Ambassadors are concerned around having to change their numbers again and losing contacts.

“When you are settling and integrating in another country, numbers are very important. There also may be people in remote areas or not accessing services who will therefore find it difficult to access or know about alternative SIM card schemes available.

“Many are already struggling with the removal of the WiFi boxes, one Ambassador struggled to contact people on her birthday because the box was removed just before.

“Others have exams coming up, which is a really challenging time to be taking WiFi from people who often have to study at home, especially as they can’t afford travel costs.”

People seeking sanctuary need access to the internet in order to communicate with families and access information such as legal and administrative resources related to their asylum claims.

This includes researching their legal rights, finding information about the asylum process, and communicating with legal representatives and support organisations.

WiFi also enables access to online educational resources, language learning platforms, and educational materials.

Reliable WiFi also allows asylum seekers to access healthcare information and mental health support services.


The Voices Network says this is particularly important given the significant stress and trauma often experienced by asylum seekers.

Wifi is integral to access social media platforms and local community resources and it allows access to news from around the world such as changes to immigration policies that may affect an asylum claim.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the importance of this service. Unfortunately, our delivery partner for the project – Clearsprings Ready Homes – has taken the decision to withdraw from the project for 2024-25.

“We are working to identify an alternative affordable delivery model, which will be in place as soon as possible.”

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.