Author- CONRAD LANDIN
SERCO came under fire for sponsoring a float at Manchester Pride this weekend at the same time it is pressing ahead with evicting refugees in Glasgow.
The outsourcing giant will hand over the Home Office contract for housing asylum-seekers to the Mears Group next month.
But it is still changing the locks of those whose applications have been rejected, even while they are still appealing.
Serco had a balloon prominently placed at Manchester’s LGBT Pride procession on Saturday, carrying the message: “Proud to be at Pride: Serco: We love.”
The Manchester branch of feminist group Sisters Uncut accused Serco of using the event to “sanitise their image.”
The stunt was also condemned by Scottish tenants’ union Living Rent, which is resisting the evictions alongside refugee and community groups.
“If Serco want the public to view them as an organisation that is concerned with the wellbeing of communities, they’d be as well to not make hundreds street homeless across the city of Glasgow,” Living Rent organiser George Lavery told the Star.
“It’s hypocritical for Serco to try and present an image of themselves as socially conscious while they’re extremely callously implementing evictions that are putting vulnerable people into street homelessness in the name of profit.”
Earlier this week the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) accused Serco of “using surveillance methods” to carry out the evictions while people “are temporarily out of their homes, either to go to the shops or to appointments.”
The charity said that one man had “left his property for a few hours to go to a hospital appointment,” and returned home to find that his locks had been changed.
“When questioned about this, Serco claimed that he had abandoned his property,” an SRC spokesman told Glasgow’s Evening Times newspaper.
However Serco asylum housing chief Jenni Halliday told the same newspaper: “Far from being the villain of the piece that some people would have us, the reality is that for the past three years and at our own expense, Serco has been providing more accommodation and support for former asylum-seekers than any other organisation in Scotland.
“We have also made £150,000 available to local charities in the Glasgow area.”