Local government chiefs in Essex have announced plans to offer free Sky TV to asylum seekers who are housed within the county, and it is hoped that the scheme will give new arrivals the ‘best possible chance’ of fitting into modern British society. According to the government-backed Essex Refugee Action Working Group, the project will cost no more than £5 million per year, and the main benefit will be that asylum seekers and refugees will be able to study a variety of English language movies, TV shows and live sporting events – it is hoped that this will in turn allow them to become more integrated with the people of Essex and the rest of the UK.

Martin Quark is in charge of the project, and he spoke to Southend News Network’s Chief Reporter earlier today. He said: ‘People who arrive in the UK to claim asylum are often terrified of the days and months that lay ahead, and by providing them with a comprehensive Sky TV package they will have reassuring shows to watch on a TV that will also be funded through the same initiative. Wherever they have originated from, it is highly likely that the English Premier League will be very popular, and they will be able to sit down with fellow football fans and watch their favourites in action every week while their asylum claim is processed. Movies are also vital for this plan to be a success, and so we are confident that they will feel more likely to engage with the rest of British society. Although it would have been far cheaper to provide Freeview boxes for them, our cultural and socio-economic advisors have told us that free-to-air shows would only have a limited effect.’

Mr Quark added: ‘Another major ‘plus point’ in giving asylum seekers Sky TV is that it will then become cost-effective to provide fibre-optic broadband to each home as well. Unfortunately, the days of ‘Watch Your Language’-style evening classes for immigrants are long gone, and our researchers have told is that 92% of arrivals in the UK would benefit from access to YouTube. In most cases, the broadband will only cost £10 extra per claimant per month along with line rental, and so we are proud to be championing the concept of ‘Connected Refugees.’ With the British government now committed to taking more refugees and asylum seekers from Syria, we are excited to be rolling out these ambitious plans that will help them to learn English and eventually find employment opportunities once their application for asylum has been approved.’