Author: Conrad Landin
HUNDREDS of Glaswegians rallied last night in protest at the “mass eviction” of refugees by Serco.
The outsourcing giant has provoked a wave of outcry by proposing to change the locks on the front doors of 300 refugees’ homes in Glasgow who have been refused asylum in Britain.
Serco, which provides asylum-seeker housing under a public contract, announced at the weekend that it would “be commencing with the issuing of lock-change notices” from Monday.
The company said it was “sympathetic” to those affected but was housing rejected asylum-seekers without recompense from the Home Office.
Serco said it was “considering” halting the plan, but SNP, Greens and Labour politicans have all co-signed a letter calling on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to intervene. They argued that that evictions would cause a “humanitarian crisis” on the streets of Scotland’s largest city.
Yesterday housing associations and homelessness charity Shelter joined the condemnation.
“Homelessness is a damaging and horrific experience for anyone to face and it is something that should never be wilfully forced on our fellow human beings, particularly those that have come to Scotland seeking a new life and support,” Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said. “This is a tragic and deplorable situation.
“We call on the Home Office and Serco to immediately cease this course of action and remember that these are people’s homes and lives that are being treated with such contempt.”
Scottish Federation of Housing Associations chief executive Sally Thomas said: “We are concerned now that Serco is in danger of putting profit before people, failing to work within the spirit of the law and letting down vulnerable households in the support and inadequate time they need to make alternative housing arrangements.
“Serco leases many of the homes they provide to asylum-seekers from housing associations in Glasgow. Speaking on behalf of members, we would be concerned if even lawful evictions were done in such a way that was inhumane and put vulnerable households on the streets, without support.”
Scotland’s Living Rent tenants’ union said the evictions could be resisted through a mass programme of community engagement.
“As a tenants’ union, we will not allow this brutal attack by Serco on some of the most vulnerable people in our city to become just another episode in the shameful history of housing in Glasgow,” Craig Paterson said.
“Our position as a union is clear. We are against all evictions, we are against homelessness, we are against the victimisation and intimidation of tenants by those who hold power, wealth and property in their hands.”
*The Campaign for Socialism, a left-wing group which works within Scottish Labour, is holding a public meeting to rally support against the evictions tonight at 7pm at John Smith House, 145-165 West Regent Street, Glasgow G2 4RE.