Glasgow protests: don’t break our communities apart
On Monday 15th of November, NCADC joined over 300 demonstrators outside Glasgow City Council headquarters to protest the UKBA decision to terminate the City Council’s contract to house Asylum seekers: a decision which could lead to the forced displacement of over 600 refugee families.
The demonstrators called for a reversal of the decision, criticising the ‘callous’ way in which the changeover is being handled. Click the picture to view a video report of the protest. There is a lot of anger about this in Glasgow, and another protest is planned outside the UKBA reporting centre on Saturday morning, where people are invited to come and ceremonially burn their UKBA warning letters.
On the 5th of November the UKBA issued letters to all asylum seeker families in City Council housing, warning them that they may be given between 3 and 5 days notice and that they would be allowed only 2 pieces of luggage per person. Click here to download a copy of the UKBA letter.
If the moves go ahead, families could be transferred to anywhere “within the Scotland region” and face being separated from the support networks they have developed, including schools and community services. The letters have led to a panic situation with hundreds contacting charities and groups like Unity for help.
Families were told that the move could begin as early as this week, but it has since emerged that UKBA had not even started a dialogue with the alternative landlords. A leaked City Council letter (click to download pdf) reveals the complete lack of thought on the part of UKBA on just how much effort it would take to transfer so many families and set up new housing and support services.
Monday’s demonstration was well attended with such short notice – with participation from asylum seekers, support organisations and community groups, City Council members, local colleges and universities as well as representatives of political parties and faith groups.
After the group had assembled in the square a number of speakers addressed the crowd, including Scottish Nationalist Party MSP’s from the Scottish Government and the Liberal Democrats, a council member, and a number of representatives from various Asylum Seeker support groups.
Protesters and speakers raised concerns about a number of issues, including what would happen to children currently attending school and how the issue might affect their asylum claims and benefits if they refused to move. Criticism was also voiced over the choice of alternative housing provider: private firm Angel group has a reputation for providing poor housing and failing to fulfil its role as landlord effectively.
Phill Jones, of the Unity Centre, took the opportunity to highlight that families could not be forcibly removed from their homes, and that they would be able to retain their rights, at least initially. But he added that no one should try to resist the UKBA on their own – they need support, advice and solidarity.
Speaking on behalf of Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, Jock Morris invited the protesters to attend another demonstration and symbolic bonfire morning at 10:30am on Saturday the 20th of November, at which the letters issued by the UKBA would be burned. The protest will be at Brand Street Immigration Reporting Centre in Ibrox.