A REFUGEE support group says that asylum seekers who have moved into a town centre hotel deserve to be shown 'sympathy' and 'compassion'.

Between 29 and 34 asylum seekers are being housed at The Waverley Hotel in Whitehaven, in a scheme between the new hotel owners and Serco, which provides accommodation for immigrants while their asylum is processed.

West Cumbria Refugee Support Network said that staff from Serco seemed to be doing 'a reasonably good job' of managing the hotel.

A spokesperson for the West Cumbria Refugee Support Network said: “We have a relatively small number of male asylum seekers staying there.

"They have all undergone great hardship on their journeys, fleeing persecution and warfare.

“We hope local people will show compassion and understanding, and bear in mind that any of us could one day find ourselves in a similar situation, through no fault of our own. 

“These men would love to work and contribute to our economy but government policy unfortunately doesn't allow them to do that while waiting for their asylum claims to be heard. 

“While they are waiting, our voluntary group will support them as best we can.

"We hope to offer them volunteering opportunities and help them improve their English. 

“We understand that everyone is feeling anxious about the cost of living crisis but we hope this won't lead a minority to behave in a hostile manner towards the asylum seekers.

"Our impression is that most local people are happy to welcome them.

“West Cumbrians have a reputation for being warm-hearted people, and this has been amply demonstrated by the number of West Cumbrians who have generously welcomed Ukrainians into their homes.

“The asylum seekers in Whitehaven may not be European but they also deserve our sympathy and compassion.”

The hotel on Tangier Street had been family-run for the last 38 years but was sold last month and handed over to new owners, who are understood to be from Liverpool.

READ MORE: Asylum seekers move into the Waverley Hotel in Whitehaven after 'traumatic' experiences