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Archive for July 2006

ASYLUM SEEKER MOVES NEAR COMPLETION

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Local Government Chronicle (LGC)

With new Home Office contracts agreed for the housing of asylum seekers in Glasgow, over 700 asylum seekers (84%) have already transferred from being supported and accommodated by Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Housing Association respectively, to support and accommodation being provided by YMCA Glasgow and the Angel Group. That leaves 125 asylum seekers still to be rehoused over the next couple of months.Most asylum seekers in Glasgow – there are 5,000 altogether, less than 1% of Glasgow’s total population – have not been affected by the contractual changes at all and are not required to move home.Glasgow City Council, NASS, the Angel Group and YMCA Glasgow will be meeting with affected households in Pollockshaws to reassure them that every effort will be made to rehouse them in the same area and to talk to them about the timetable and arrangements for the moves.COSLA Refugee and Asylum Seekers’ Consortium spokesman Andy White said:’I welcome the meetings that are planned with asylum seekers affected by the new contracts. The meetings are necessary and I hope they are helpful to the people involved at what must be a stressful time. The consortium – which brings together local and central government, housing providers, police, health and voluntary sectors, and asylum seeker representatives – is keen to ensure that there is minimum disruption caused for affected asylum seekers. There are lessons to be learned and shared to make sure that asylum seekers and the wider communities in which they live, are kept well-informed about proposed changes.’NotesIn addition to the meeting in Pollockshaws, the Angel Group and a representative from Glasgow City Council’s Asylum Seekers Project will also visit asylum seekers, prior to a move, and explain the timescale and the address to which they are moving.The transition process is nearing completion and will result in Glasgow City Council retaining 81% of the provision, with 19% split between the Angel Group and the YMCA Glasgow. All accommodation providers work to consistent national standards of service defined by IND/NASS.Glasgow City Council statement All service users in Scotland should be aware that all accommodation providers, Glasgow City Council, The Angel Group and YMCA Glasgow work to consistent rules and standards of service which are defined by IND/NASS commercial standards. These are applicable across the UK. If anyone has any issues over the standards of accommodation or services they should immediately contact IND Scotland’s contract compliance team at 200 Brand Street, Glasgow, G51 1AR

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Written by Concerned

July 17, 2006 at 4:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

PRISONERS IN THE TOWER; Glasgow’s hidden shame of the ‘mini Dungavel’

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CAMPAIGNERS today hit out at a charity for “segregating” asylum seekers in a tower block hostel in Glasgow. Politicians, refugee groups and housing activists have condemned plans to uproot dozens of settled families in the city and move them into a 29-storey block in Springburn, which is run by YMCA Glasgow. One city MSP branded the tower block hostel a “miniDungavel” – a reference to the detention centre in Lanarkshire. City council bosses this week suspended plans to move asylum seekers from Pollokshaws to the high-rise property following a major community campaign. Now the charity, which has taken over part of the city’s asylum contract, has come under fire for creating a “ghetto” in the north of Glasgow. The YMCA base has only four washing machines to serve the entire block’s 200 refugees, and families are denied phonelines in their rooms. Margaret Woods, organiser of Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, said: “There’s no place for ghettos in Glasgow. The YMCA tower block is not an acceptable building. “There are no circumstances under which a hostel housing only refugees is an acceptable situation in this city.” The high-rise in Petershill Drive, Springburn, which is leased from Glasgow Housing Association, already houses around 200 asylum seekers. Housing officers from the charity sparked widespread concern last month by giving up to 50 families in Pollokshaws a week’s notice to quit their homes and move to Springburn. Many of the families have lived in the south side for five years and faced having to remove their children from school this summer. But the city council has stepped in and suspended all moves for three months in a bid to keep the families in the Pollokshaws area. City MSP Sandra White said: “There may be no barbed wire or security guards but Petershill Drive is a mini-Dungavel. “We’ve had some positive news but there’s no guarantee that families in the south side won’t be moved into this hostel.” YMCA Glasgow and the Angel Group, a private housing contractor, were awarded 19-per cent of Glasgow’s accommodation contract for asylum seekers earlier this year. There are around 5800 asylum seekers in Glasgow living in 2000 households, so the new providers will be responsible for housing roughly 400 families. Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan said: “Glasgow should be extending the hand of friendship to these people. “The fact is that asylum seekers are placed in housing no-one else wants to live in. “They take pride in their homes and look after their families. There are no better neighbours than asylum seekers and they should be treated with respect.” Robina Qureshi, director of Glasgow charity Positive Action In Housing, said: “There are major questions to be asked about the YMCA’s role in this. “How much money are they receiving for re-housing these asylum seekers? “The council’s announcement was a good result but we have to keep going.” Bill Speirs, general secretary of the Scottish TUC, said: “It is outrageous that asylum seekers in Glasgow are being rounded up and concentrated in one building. “It is particularly sad that the YMCA, is facilitating this by providing the premises for a price.” Campaigners, including Scotland’s biggest teaching union, the EIS, objected to the plan to move the families. Officials said pupils and teachers were “deeply distressed” at the prospect of children being abruptly removed from schools. The Angel Group has been asked to source properties over the summer to ensure the families can stay within a three-mile radius of their current homes. Councillor Irene Graham, the city council’s equalities spokeswoman, said: “Our ultimate aim is now to re-house as many families in the local area as possible.” A spokesman for YMCA Glasgow said Petershill Drive was staffed by a team of 28 workers, who provided support around the clock, and the building included a coffee bar, internet cafe, social space and creche, and a women’s group. Shafiq Mohammed, the charity’s refugee services co-ordinator, declined to comment on how much money YMCA Glasgow would receive from the contract. But he said: “‘Ghetto’ is a very disrespectful term. “This area has had a large asylum-seeker community for the last five or six years. We offer fully furnished, three-bedroom flats, which are ideal for families. “The asylum seekers have integrated into the community. “We accept there are areas we have to look at to improve things, but the term ‘ghetto’ is not accurate and is unhelpful.” Bodies which give homes to refugees YMCA Glasgow dates back to 1877 and has neighbourhood centres in Easterhouse, Castlemilk, Drumchapel and Possilpark The charity currently provides accommodation for 180 asylum seekers who are funded by the National Asylum Support Service The organisation employs more than 200 people and runs more than 30 projects across Greater Glasgow, Renfrew, Hamilton, and East Kilbride The Glasgow branch concentrates on helping young people at risk, homeless people, asylum seekers and refugees Backers include the lottery, Children in Need, Lloyds TSB Foundation and the Robertson Trust The Angel Group is contracted to provide 3000 beds for asylum seekers across the country It uses different types of accommodation ranging from residential properties to guesthouses and large hostels The firm has around 10-per cent of Glasgow’s city asylum accommodation contract and also houses asylum seekers in Leeds and Newcastle It scrapped plans to convert an old RAF base near Prestwick Airport into a hostel in 2003

Written by Concerned

July 3, 2006 at 4:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized