BY Ryan McDougall | July 12 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

3 seeker

Catholic groups and campaigners join forces to fight Serco refugee evictions

Campaigners are seeking parish support for people made homeless after being refused asylum in the UK.

Serco, which is contracted by the Home Office to provide housing for asylum seekers, restarted lock-change evictions in June, after the move was halted last year following legal action.

The eviction notices are issued to tenants who had been denied the right to remain in the UK.

 

‘Chaos’ in Glasgow

Campaigners fighting the policy, including Catholic Justice and Peace groups, Glasgow No Evictions and Living Rent, said it could lead to ‘chaos’ on the streets of Glasgow, and they are now calling for support from parishes.

Sean Baillie, national organiser for tenants union Living Rent, said: “We are asking for church groups and priests to condemn this to the local authority or the Home Office and ask parishioners to get involved with helping out.

“So far, Springburn Parish Church of Scotland is on board and are opening their doors for people affected—but we really need to spread the word across all faiths. The people of Glasgow need to stand together.”

 

Evictions

It is thought that Serco are currently evicting some 30 asylum seekers a week in Glasgow.

They have pledged to donate £150,000 to homeless support charities in the city, however Mr Baillie says the affected asylum seekers are still living in horrendous conditions.

“The Church has a lot of respect and trust in communities; it has a long history of fighting these issues and has a strong moral leadership,” he said, adding that the Church has a track record of supporting immigrants—including those who fled the Great Hunger in Ireland—and that many of the asylum seekers in Glasgow are Catholic and attend the city’s parishes.

 

Calls for support

Justice and Peace Scotland’s Glasgow group are currently involved in the campaign and coordinator Danny Sweeney has encouraged more Christians to offer their support.

He said: “Several groups including those highlighted by the SCO, along with Refugee Survival Trust, Glasgow Night Shelter and others are organising to respond both politically and practically to what SERCO and the Home Office are doing and we would encourage all Christians to reflect and pray, to identify and act on where they are being called to contribute to this response.

“The Glasgow archdiocesan Justice and Peace group is coordinating the parish Justice and Peace groups and other Catholic organisations across the city to identify the best way for the Church—at the institutional level—to respond and more information on that will be forthcoming.”

 

‘Poor performance’

Mr Sweeney claimed Serco have ‘a long history of poor performance.’

“We would call for all evictions and lock changes to be put on hold while proper arrangements can be made on a case to case basis,” he added.

 

Church concern

Anthony Horan, director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, said the lock changing is a ‘matter of serious concern,’ stating the UK should be a place where the most vulnerable should be ‘given the help and resources necessary to rebuild their lives.’

“Forced evictions of this nature are another example of official policies and procedures that lack humanity,” he added.

Serco recently lost the asylum accommodation contract for Scotland and will no longer provide the housing from September.

 

Serco response

Approached for the comment, the company said the UK Government advised that those who had their asylum claims refused had ‘exhausted all avenues of appeal and no longer have the right to remain in the UK.’

Julia Rogers, managing director of immigration for Serco, said: “We very much regret the distress this will cause, but hope that it will be understood that we cannot be expected to provide free housing indefinitely to hundreds of people who have been unsuccessful in their asylum claims and most of whom have no legal right to remain in the UK.

“We call on all parties to work with us constructively to help people navigate their way through to a new future beyond the asylum system, and we will be making funds available to charities to support this work.”

To help, visit: www.justiceandpeacescotland.org.uk or contact glasgow@livingrent.org

 

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