Hotel living no better than detention centres, asylum seekers say

At a protest in Glasgow on Wednesday night, asylum seekers say the Home Office has failed in their duty of care.

Protesters in Glasgow
Protesters in Glasgow

Asylum seekers are demanding they be removed from hotels and put back into homes in Glasgow.

During a protest on Wednesday night, asylum seekers and charities demanded the Home Office and Mears Group – the company in charge of housing refugees in Glasgow – show their duty of care.

At the protest, attended by about 30 people, people shared their experiences of being an asylum seeker in the city, with one protester saying living in a hotel was no better than a detention centre.

The protesters are asking that the asylum seekers be returned to housing and the £5 daily allowance be reinstated.

Stand Up to Racism – Glasgow demonstration
Hegma, a refugee from Sudan, said living in a hotel was no better than a detention centre (Jane Barlow/PA)

The demonstration came just days after the conditions of asylum seekers was highlighted after Badreddin Abedlla Adam, a 28-year-old man from Sudan, injured six people at the Park Inn Hotel.

Robina Qureshi, from Positive Action in Housing, said there had been a “catalogue” of failures in the duty of care to refugees.

She added: “Let me put you into the Park Inn hotel where I was told ‘It’s like a pressure cooker in there’.

“These are not people on holiday, these are people who have come fleeing for their lives. But you have a Home Office with a culture of disbelief.

“This is about the failure of duty of care.

“Are women here able to buy sanitary protection? Shall we talk about the blood-stained sheets people are too afraid to put outside because they couldn’t have sanitary protection?

“You treat people with such indignity while taking a £1 billion housing contract.”

Stand Up to Racism – Glasgow demonstration
Asylum seekers say the home office has failed in its duty of care (Jane Barlow/PA)

Hegma, a refugee from Sudan, said the hotels asylum seekers were housed in were no better than detention centres.

She said: “You say we were all accommodated in hotels? Why are you complaining – it’s very nice rooms and nice services.

“But no, there is nothing there. It is a detention centre. You will be locked in a small, tiny room.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “These claims are inaccurate – when staying in hotel accommodation, all essential living needs, including three meals a day, healthcare, WiFi and TV, are met.

“This is all paid for by the taxpayer and there is no cost to the individual, so we do not pay an allowance in these circumstances.

“Those in hotels were not confined to their rooms and could come and go as they please, accommodation providers monitor the welfare of the residents and if any asylum seeker experiences issues, there is a 24-hour hotline available for support.”

Stand Up to Racism protest
About 30 people attended the protest (Jane Barlow/PA)

The protesters are also calling for an inquiry into the treatment of asylum seekers during the lockdown, writing in a statement: “Both the Home Office and Mears Group have serious questions to answer.

“The uprooting of asylum seekers from their homes into hotels was always a bad response to the Covid-19 crisis. Many asylum seekers are living with trauma or long-term mental health problems associated with their harrowing life experiences.

“Transferring them to isolated hotel rooms beside strangers, without suitable vulnerability checks by either Mears or the Home Office was always a terrible idea.”

The Mears Group declined to comment.

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