Thursday, 11 November 2010

Don't Break Our Communities Apart!

The latest council, following the like of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, to opportunistically cancel its contract with the Border Agency to house asylum seeker families is Glasgow City Council. In Glasgow's case there are about 1000 asylum seekers who will soon be getting a letter through their doors telling them that they have as little as 3 days notice to leave their homes and be moved to an as yet unknown destination! They will also be told that they are "allowed to take two pieces of luggage per person. In addition, children’s toys, baby care items, medical equipment, buggies and disability aids are also allowed.”

This is all a thinly-disguised form of racist pandering will have a minuscule effect on housing waiting lists but will have a significant impact on refugee families across Britain. We should all oppose it.

Correction: It was the UKBA that cancelled the contract and NOT Glasgow City Council.

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Keep the Contract with Glasgow City Council!
Join the Protest:
Monday 15 November
10.30am
Outside Glasgow City Chambers,
George Square

Today at a meeting in Cranhill it was confirmed that the first asylum seeker families are to be moved out of Glasgow City Council accommodation starting as early as Monday next week.

One family has been told they will be moving on Monday. At least two other families have been told they'll also be leaving accommodation provided by the council next week.

On Saturday last week, the 900 plus asylum seeker families who are currently accommodated in housing organised by Glasgow City Council received letters stating that the housing contract from the UK Border Agency to house them had been terminated.

Staff at the Glasgow Asylum Seeker Support Project were told at 3pm on Friday afternoon after their acting head had received the news in an email. The move has taken everyone involved in supporting asylum seekers in Glasgow completely by surprise and came as a shock to many.

It is still not known where families are going to be moved to and the confusion is spreading anxiety and alarm through the asylum seeker community in Glasgow. Earlier today the UKBA press office was suggesting that, in the short term at least, the other current accommodation providers in Glasgow, the YMCA charity and the notorious Angel Group, would take on the contract.

The letters sent out to the tenants however suggest that they could be relocated to anywhere in Scotland.

Now facing significant disruption to their housing - and potentially facing being moved away from established friends and supporters as well as from services such as GPs and social workers - asylum seekers in Glasgow are extremely alarmed and concerned about this sudden news.

Many are concerned about how their children could be affected if they are moved out of established schools.

Many are also worried that they may have to move away from friends and supportive neighbours and community groups, breaking the strong ties that have developed over months and years in communities across the city.

Other concerns have also been raised about the ability of the YMCA and the Angel Group to provide adequate accommodation at such short notice.

Since taking over part of the housing contract in 2006, both the Angel Group and the YMCA, have received criticism over how they have provided accommodation to asylum seekers. The Angel Group, in particular, have had many accusations of providing inadequate housing and its staff giving poor service, made against it.

UNITY is calling for a protest outside of Glasgow City Chambers of everyone concerned about the sudden ending of the housing contract and against the disruption to our communities and its impact on the lives of our friends and neighbours.

Come to Glasgow City Chambers at 10.30 Monday 15th November to show your opposition to these developments and to call on the UKBA and Glasgow City Council to resolve any difficulties.

4 comments:

colinbestedgar said...

In actual fact, the City Council hasn't cancelled the contract with UKBA, it's the other way around. We greatly value the relationship the city has with the asylum seekers who have settled here over the years and we hope it will continue.

Hope that helps.

Colin Edgar, Head of Communication, Glasgow City Council.

drygate said...

Sorry, No Borders Brighton,
but you've got the Glasgow story the wrong way round - UKBA terminated the contract, not the council.

Glasgow wanted to do a deal but UKBA did not want to pay a price that would have allowed the council to accommodate asylum seekers at the basic homelessness standard. Yes, that's right the basic homelessness standard.

By claiming the council cancelled the contract you are basically swallowing UKBA's spin - not a particularly noble position for some with your views.

Also the letters sent to asylum seekers were sent by UKBA and not council, something which is far from clear in your article.

Read the blog you posted below your own again. Glasgow Asylum Seekers Support Project is run by the council's social work department. Why exactly would staff there be surprised on Friday if it was the council that terminated the contact?

Answer - because the council didn't terminate the contract. It was UKBA.

pamela said...

I was shocked by the decision to end the contract with Glasgow City Council by the UKBA. Its heartbreaking for the people who now feel at home in Glasgow. However your comments on other housing providers are unfair. YMCA are not a charity (now called Ypeople)are a business the same as Angel Group. Having worked for Angel till made redundant after nearly 3 years I put my heart and soul into helping asylum seekers as did most of my fellow workers

brightonnoborders(-at)riseup.net said...

colinbesyedgar & drygate

Have posted a correction. Got hold of the wrong end of the stick by speed reading the Evening Times article too quickly!

pamela

We were reposting a piece from Indymedia Scotland [http://www.indymediascotland.org/node/22207] and you'll have to take up your complaints with the original poster.