• Glasgow has internalised it’s role in the slave trade. A thread.


    Despite the fact black people make up less than 1% of the overall Scottish population, Glasgow being a major city should rise and re-name these streets. It should not forever internalise such a disgusting time in history.
    Also, Jamaica and Tobago street are right next to these streets.
    Please forgive the spelling mistakes. I don’t double check what I’ve written when I’m so emotionally invested.

    https://twitter.com/lulijta/status/1266908244276121601

    #Glasgow #Ecosse #toponymie #toponymie_politique #noms_de_rue #colonialisme #colonisation #esclavage #histoire

    voir aussi:
    https://seenthis.net/messages/810253

    ping @neotoponymie @reka @karine4

  • Call for probe after man found dead in Covid-19 asylum seeker hotel

    Refugee activists have called for an independent inquiry into the decision to move asylum seekers from their flats in Glasgow into hotels, after a man died suddenly at a guest house.

    Adnan, a 30-year-old Syrian, who had been in the city for about six months and was claiming asylum, was found dead in his room at #McLay’s_Guest_House on Tuesday 5 May.

    He had been living in the hotel for about a month, after accommodation provider, #Mears_Group, moved him from the flat where he had been living alone as part of its Covid-19 response.

    It is understood he may have died after a drug overdose. A postmortem will be carried out to confirm the cause of death.

    Hundreds of asylum seekers across the city have been moved to hotels by #Mears since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. Their asylum support of £35 per week has stopped and instead they are provided with three meals per day in communal dining rooms, where it is claimed social distancing is difficult.

    They have no money for essentials such as toiletries, phone top-ups or snacks. After The Ferret reported that shared coffee and tea facilities put people at risk of being infected by Covid-19, they were taken away in at least one dining room. No in-room alternatives have been offered.

    Those supporting asylum seekers in hotels have said the situation is having a toll on their emotional well-being and are concerned about the risks that the situation poses to their physical health during the pandemic.

    The Ferret spoke to a friend of Adnan, who is also staying at McLay’s Guest House. He said his friend had addiction issues, was taking street Valium, and had become increasingly distressed during his time at the hotel.

    It is claimed that he had experienced past #trauma including abuse in jail and his friend said he had been expressing suicidal thoughts in the weeks leading up to his death.

    The day before he died, his friend said he was having flashbacks and had asked to see a GP.

    Pinar Aksu, an activist who also works for Maryhill Integration Network, said: “There needs to be an independent inquiry into this death. If people don’t get the help they need then we risk more people dying.

    “We also need to stop moving people into hotels. It seems very clear to me that this is being done so that Mears and the Home Office can protect profit. If they care about people’s welfare then why are they moving people out of their flats in the midst of a pandemic to places where they have to eat meals in shared areas and share bathrooms?

    “This tragedy is evidence of the damage caused by the asylum system. Moving people to hotels like this is only causing more stress and isolation. It has to stop.”

    A spokesperson from the No Evictions Network said: “We are deeply saddened and utterly outraged by the lack of humanity, dignity, or consideration shown to asylum seekers by Mears, the Home Office, and the UK government. They have failed to comply with basic duties and to treat human life with respect.

    “Individuals, racist policies and systems are directly to blame for this man’s death. This situation was entirely avoidable. Despite this, pleas for change made by both individuals and organisations have been ignored and a young life has now been lost.”

    At oral evidence given to the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into Home Office work on Covid-19, Mears Group said it had taken the decision “on balance” to move people in flats into hotels with meals provided because it meant staff would not need to deliver cash to them. It was also claimed they would have better access to health services.

    Mears, along with Clearsprings Real Homes and Serco who have accommodation contracts elsewhere in the UK, said it was “concerning” that asylum seekers had had their support stopped.

    A spokesman for Mears Group said: “We are deeply sad to confirm the death of an asylum-seeker who had been in Mears supported accommodation. The cause of death has not been determined.”

    A Police Scotland spokesperson said the death is being treated as “unexplained” and that a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

    The Ferret tried to contact McLay’s Guest House for comment but was not able to speak to management. The Home Office has also been contacted.

    https://theferret.scot/covid-19-syrian-man-dies-asylum-seeker-hotel
    #décès #mort #mourir_dans_un_hôtel #Glasgow #Ecosse #UK #asile #migrations #réfugiés #hôtel #covid-19 #coronavirus #hébergement #logement #santé_mentale #suicide (?) #traumatisme #privatisation

    ping @karine4 @isskein @thomas_lacroix

    • Fury after Syrian asylum seeker found dead in Scottish hotel

      CAMPAIGNERS have slammed the UK Government after a Syrian man was found dead in a Scottish hotel.

      Initially named by friends as Adnan Olpi, that can today be confirmed as Adnan Olbeh.

      The 30-year-old was amongst scores of asylum seekers placed in a private guest house by Home Office housing contractor Mears Group.

      Emergency services were called to the 81-bedroom McLays Hotel in Glasgow on Tuesday afternoon but were unable to save him.

      Police Scotland said his death is being treated as unexplained, and friends told The National that he had sought support for mental health struggles and had developed drug problems while in the UK asylum system.

      However, despite some reports on social media that he had taken his own life, it is not known whether or not his death was intentional.

      Friends living alongside Mr Olbeh at the city site were afraid to speak out on the record, for fear of harming their claims for sanctuary in the UK.

      However, speaking on condition of anonymity, one fellow Syrian told how he had accompanied Mr Olbeh to appointments in which he had asked for mental health support. The friend said: “He had suicidal thoughts and told the Home Office that. I went to the hospital with him, he was seeking help. He tried many times. They would ask, ‘can you wait a few days?’”

      However, it is claimed that the move into the hotel exacerbated Mr Olbeh’s distress due to the inability to carry out basic independent tasks, like cooking his own meals. The friend went on: “I’m in shock. It’s really tough for me because I was so close with him.

      “He was under more pressure. I wonder if there was any small thing I could have done to save him.

      “He had a dream, he wanted his life to become better. He wanted to work and send money back to his family. He wanted to improve himself and he was learning the language. He wanted to get married and start a family.”

      The No Evictions Network held an online vigil yesterday evening. A spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened by the situation, and utterly outraged by the lack of humanity, dignity or consideration shown to asylum seekers by Mears, the Home Office, and the UK Government.

      “They have failed to comply with basic duties and to treat human life with respect. This situation was entirely avoidable. Despite this, pleas for change made by both individuals and organisations have been ignored. We have lost a young life.”

      It is understood that around 500 asylum seekers in total are now being housed in Glasgow hotels, including some brought in from elsewhere in the UK. Mears Group claims it had to move people out of the short-term let accommodation used for new applicants but has been unable to find new provision due to coronavirus restrictions on the property market.

      Advocacy groups have raised fears about welfare, safety and social distancing but Mears Group insists all movement is being undertaken in accordance with health authority guidance on social distancing.

      Last night, a Mears Group spokesperson said: “We are deeply sad to confirm the death of an asylum seeker who had been in Mears supported accommodation. Mears are working with the Home Office to contact the asylum seeker’s family before disclosing more information.”

      The Home Office said: "We are aware of an incident resulting in an individual sadly losing his life.

      “It would be inappropriate to comment before all of the facts have been established and his family have been notified.”

      https://www.thenational.scot/news/18439256.fury-syrian-asylum-seeker-found-dead-scottish-hotel

    • Syrian man dies in Glasgow amid fears over refugees’ mental health

      Concerns raised over hundreds of asylum seekers moved en masse into hotels for lockdown.

      A Syrian man has been found dead in a Glasgow guesthouse after outreach workers raised significant concerns about the spiralling mental distress of hundreds of asylum seekers who were moved en masse into hotels at the beginning of lockdown.

      The man, who was 30 and had been living in Glasgow for the past six months while he completed his asylum application, was found dead in his room at McLay’s Guest House in the city centre on 5 May. A postmortem will take place to establish the cause of death, but a friend said the man had been experiencing suicidal thoughts for several weeks.

      Last month the Guardian reported that more than 300 asylum seekers housed in the city – the UK’s largest dispersal area – had been given less than an hour’s notice to pack up their flats before being moved into city centre hotels, where they claimed physical distancing was “impossible”. In a move condemned by campaigners, they also had all financial support withdrawn.

      The private housing provider Mears, which is subcontracted by the Home Office, moved them from mainly self-contained apartments into hotels where residents and campaigners describe continuing difficulties with maintaining physical distancing.

      Mears said people were being “safely and appropriately” housed in accordance with health authority guidance, while a Home Office spokesperson said it was “totally incorrect” to suggest that there were problems with physical distancing.
      Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate - sent direct to you
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      Since then, outreach workers have identified increasing fear, stress and anxiety among this vulnerable population, who have no information about future housing arrangements and no money to top up their phones to continue communication with lawyers, or buy extra food, hand sanitiser or period products for women.

      A friend of the dead man said that since the move into the guesthouse, he had spoken of worsening flashbacks to torture he had experienced on his journey through Libya to the UK.

      Ako Zada, the director of Community InfoSource, an asylum housing charity, has been visiting hotel residents regularly. He said: “I’ve been shocked to see people so mentally unwell. They are worried about cleaning of shared areas, and they don’t know when they will be moving again because they keep getting told different stories.”

      Hotel residents have complained about the quality of food provided, the fact that windows cannot be opened, as well as the psychological isolation. A number of hotel workers have also contacted the Guardian to raise concerns about large numbers of asylum seekers congregating in enclosed areas.

      Robina Qureshi of Positive Action in Housing said the “hotel asylum seekers” were being treated as “less than human”. “Many people, men and women are suffering from severe mental health conditions. The fact that Mears and the Home Office see fit to dump hundreds of people in hotels where there is no social distancing, people cannot keep their personal environment aired or hygienic, and have had their meagre card payment of £35 a week cut to £0 deserves further investigation.”

      Sabir Zazai, the chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “This tragic death must be a chilling reminder of the chronic vulnerabilities of those going through the complexities of the asylum system.”

      A Mears spokesperson said: “We are deeply sad to confirm the death of an asylum – seeker who had been in Mears-supported accommodation. Mears are working with the Home Office to contact the asylum seeker’s family before disclosing more information.”

      A home office spokesperson said: “We are aware of an incident resulting in an individual sadly losing his life. It would be inappropriate to comment before all of the facts have been established and his family have been notified.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/may/11/syrian-man-dies-glasgow-fears-refugees-mental-health

    • Mears Group 2020 update: scandal-ridden landlord under fire from Glasgow to Gloucester

      At the start of 2019 we published a profile on Mears Group. The #Gloucester based housing repairs outsourcer had just won a £1.15 billion contract to run the refugee accommodation system in Scotland, Northern Ireland and much of the north of England.

      In the last year, refugee and housing campaigners have been keeping a close eye on Mears, with local resistance to its slum landlord practices emerging across the UK. This report just gives a quick update on some recent news on the company.

      Unless you live in one of the properties it manages, you may well not have heard of Mears. But it has quietly built up a small empire across the UK, primarily by taking over privatised housing services from local councils. Along the way it’s already clocked up a list of scandals from Glasgow down to Brighton, involving accusations of local government corruption and numerous alleged overcharging scams.

      The death of Adnan Olbeh

      Adnan Olbeh was found dead on 5 May 2020 in a Glasgow hotel where he had been placed by Mears Group under its management of the UK’s “asylum dispersal” scheme. He was 30 years old, from Syria. The cause of death is unclear, with any postmortem examination delayed by the corona crisis.

      What is known is that Adnan was one of hundreds of refugees recently evicted from their flats by Mears and other asylum landlords.

      The mass evictions were part of the Home Office’s coronavirus strategy. Often with just an hour’s notice, people were told to pack and leave their flats and moved into hotels. The logic behind this is not entirely clear, but it seems in line with other aspects of the government’s shambolic covid-19 response. “Social distancing” measures included people being transported four or five to a small van, stripped of cash support and facilities to cook for themselves, and instead being made to eat close together in hotel canteens — with food including the likes of undercooked chicken and mouldy bread.

      According to Smina Akhtar, interviewed by John Grayson for the Institute for Race Relations:

      “We have had lots of reports from people in the hotels about really awful food and poor conditions there. Adnan’s friend told me that his mental health really deteriorated in the hotel. A week before he died his friend asked the hotel to call an emergency ambulance because Adnan was in a terrible state. His friend went with him to the hospital but said that the staff there did nothing, they offered him no medication, and sent him back to his hotel.”

      According to Mears, in evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs select committee, it was acting on a directive from the Home Office.

      Mears’ Home Office contracts so far

      Adnan Olbeh’s death is one visible tragedy linked to the misery of the UK asylum system. Thousands more people live with the everyday effects of a housing system which “disperses” people into run-down slum housing in the country’s most impoverished communities.

      For Mears, this means a ten year profit stream. For Mears’ new tenants – rat infestations, broken boilers, collapsed ceilings, piles of rubbish, and environmental hazards of all kinds seem the norm.

      John Grayson of South Yorkshire Asylum Action Group (Symaag) has been documenting the “chaotic” and “failed” Mears contract in Yorkshire. In the past he reported on similar conditions under the last contract holder, G4S.

      So have Mears even managed to underperform the shambles of G4S’ housing management? It’s maybe too early to make a full comparison. But it doesn’t look like things have got off to a good start.

      G4S and others had complained bitterly about making losses on the former round of asylum housing contracts. To drive profits up, Mears started their own tenure by trying to slash the amounts they pay to the smaller landlords they rent from. In South Yorkshire, Mears offered landlords new contracts paying up to 20% less than G4S had done. Many refused to sign up in what John Grayson calls a “virtual landlords strike” which left Mears struggling to place the asylum seekers it was contracted to house.

      In the North East, Mears had similar problems negotiating with G4S’ main sub-contractor Jomast – development company headed by Teesside multi-millionaire Stuart Monk. According to Grayson, this left over 1000 people stuck in hotels across West Yorkshire and Humberside in Wakefield’s “Urban House” temporary asylum accommodation over the winter. And, as he explained to us, the problem is by no means solved.

      “When Covid-19 arrived the whole asylum housing system was frozen in the Mears contract areas with around 400 people still in hotels and 270 in Urban House. Many people have now spent four months in Urban House, when they are only meant to stay there a few weeks. Urban House has appalling conditions which have been extensively documented in pictures and videos sent out from people resisting inside.”

      One thing Mears has achieved in Yorkshire is provoking a major local authority to come out against the contract. In January, as well as launching inspections of 240 Mears properties, Sheffield Council called on the Home Office to terminate the Mears contract and transfer asylum housing in the city directly to the council. This is only really a token gesture – the council has no say in national asylum policy. But it could be one move in a shift against the outsourced asylum housing system, if followed up elsewhere in the country.

      In Scotland, there is a strong solidarity network in support of refugee housing rights – including the Glasgow No Evictions campaign and groups such as the Unity Centre, Living Rent tenants union, and charity Positive Action in Housing. The main rallying point in 2019 was previous contractor Serco’s threatened “lock change evictions” of 300 of its tenants. Well aware of the opposition, Mears has so far tried to tread more carefully. It has promised not to carry out similar evictions, and set up a so-called “independent scrutiny board” to deflect criticism.

      In the North of Ireland, the PPR Project is one association monitoring and exposing conditions in Mears’ housing there.

      Milton Keynes mystery

      Before it turned asylum landlord, Mears’ big profit hope was getting more involved in the very lucrative business of housing development. One of its potential jackpots was a 50/50 joint venture with Milton Keynes council to redevelop seven major estates. The deal was valued at £1 billion, and branded as “YourMK”.

      But as of last year, the scheme was dead in the water. In July 2018, the council said it was putting the regeneration deal “on hold”. In October 2018, whistleblower allegations emerged that Mears had been overcharging Milton Keynes for repairs by up to £80,000 a month, with overall some £15 million “unaccounted for”. When we looked at Mears last February, the YourMK website had gone dead, with a page announcing that further information would be coming soon.

      The MK scandal still seems to be quietly brewing. In July 2019, the MK Citizen reported first of all that the regeneration scheme was definitively “scrapped”. But a couple of weeks later a second Citizen report corrected that YourMK was “not dead but dormant”, with the council and Mears “in discussions about whether it will remain the right partnership structure in future”.

      In May 2020, we haven’t seen any new announcements. The YourMK website is still down, and there is no official word on that supposedly missing 15 million. Where are the budding investigative journalists of Milton Keynes to get to the bottom of this?

      Booted out of Brighton

      Mears’ ten year housing maintenance contract with Brighton and Hove council finally came to an end on 31 May. Again, customer complaints came together with whistleblower revelations – and, yet again, the apparent disappearance of large sums of money.

      A council investigation found it had been overcharged by £500,000 by a plastering subcontractor hired by Mears. A second investigation was later opened into overcharging for electrical work.

      Mears will not be missed in #Brighton. And just before they left, in February 2020 their workers were balloting for strike action over pay and Mears’ plan to combine holiday and sick pay.

      Newham: Mears Cats

      In East London, Mears run 250 homes which are set for demolition as part of Newham Council’s “Regeneration Zone” in Canning Town and Custom House, E16.

      Like Milton Keynes, this is another overlong saga of a failing regeneration project leaving people stuck in poor housing. Back in 2011, Newham handed the properties to a private management company called Omega to let out on short term commercial tenancies. This was supposed to be a “temporary” arrangement before the bulldozers came in. Mears bought out the contract in 2014, and six years later are still in place. While the buildings are still owned by the council, Mears collect the rent and do the repairs – in theory.

      In reality, Custom House tenants speak of conditions that would be very familiar to anyone in Mears’ asylum accommodation in Sheffield or Glasgow. Months overdue repairs, water leaks, exposed asbestos, rat infestations and a “war” to get anything done – all whilst paying average rents twice as high as in directly run Newham council properties.

      Tenants have set up a vocal campaign group called Mears Cats, part of the Peoples Empowerment Alliance of Custom House, pushing to get their repairs done and for Newham Council to take direct responsibility. Boglarka Filler, one of the Mears Cats, told Corporate Watch:

      “Schemes such as the partnership between Mears and Newham Council have brought further misery to people already on the receiving end of austerity and insecure employment. Mears Cats are campaigning for better quality, cheaper housing for Mears tenants struggling to cope with disrepair and debts caused by high rents. We will take action to ensure that the Mears contract will not be renewed in Newham when it runs out in 2021, and that we get a fair deal next time.”

      Steady profits, feisty shareholders

      On a business front, Mears continues to turn a decent profit and pay out to its shareholders. Its last year (2018) annual results clocked operating profits up 4.7% (though revenue was 3% down), and shareholders pocketed a dividend up 3% on the year before.

      Mears has kept up its strategy of honing in on its “core” housing maintenance business. After buying up Mitie’s property division last year, it sold off its own home care wing.

      Most recently, Mears has said that it only expects a modest impact from the covid crisis. Housing is what is called “non-discretionary” spending – unlike foreign holidays or consumer fads, there is still demand for essential repairs in a downturn. The bulk of Mears’ income is locked in from long term contracts, largely with the public sector. As the company explained, 90% of its order book comes from public bodies and “the government has made a clear commitment that invoices will be settled quickly”.

      Through the lockdown, Mears has said it is only carrying out only emergency repairs. Although workers complain they are still being sent on unnecessary jobs without “social distancing” in place, or called in just to sit in company offices.

      Less positive for management, there are new rumbles from rebellious shareholders. Back in 2018 one of the two biggest shareholders, a German investment manager called Shareholder Value Management (SVM) successfully pushed out the company’s long-term chairman. At the latest AGM in June 2019, the other big investor also threw its weight around.

      PrimeStone Capital, a Mayfair based investor which owns over 13% of Mears’ shares, tried to get two new nominees on the board of directors against management’s wishes. The shareholder rebellion was narrowly defeated. In a statement, PrimeStone explained it was unhappy that “the company’s revenues and profit have remained flat despite its strong market position and growth prospects [while] average net debt has doubled”.

      It argued that:

      “Mears’ underperformance is predominantly due to a lack of strategic, commercial and financial experience on the board. The current board has a strong concentration of directors with a background in social housing, health & safety and charities.”

      Mears’ profit-hungry management guarantee shareholder payoffs by squeezing their repair costs to the bone. The outcome is the lived experience of their tenants across the UK. But, for some shareholders, they’re still not doing enough.

      Students and shirts

      Despite its well documented failings, Mears continues to win new contracts – for example, a new housing development project in North Lanarkshire, and a housing maintenance and repairs contract with Crawley council.

      Another sideline is its student housing offshoot Mears Student Life, so far with just two complexes in Dundee and Salford.

      Mears also likes a bit of football. In May 2019 the League One side Rotherham United confirmed it had extended its contract to emblazon the company’s classy red and black logo on its away kits for the 2019/20 season.

      Flowers left for Adnan Olbeh

      https://corporatewatch.org/mears-group-2020-update-scandal-ridden-landlord-under-fire-from-glas

    • From Sudan to the #Park_Inn: the tragic story of a migrant’s killing

      A mass stabbing in Glasgow in June revealed the plight of asylum seekers crammed into hotels during lockdown

      On the last Friday of June, at about midday, Badreddin Abadlla Adam left his room at the Park Inn hotel in Glasgow, walked down to reception, and stabbed six people. The 28-year-old, an asylum seeker from Sudan who had been placed in the hotel as part of the UK government’s emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic, stabbed and seriously injured three other residents, two staff members and a policeman who arrived on the scene. Adam was shot dead by armed officers shortly afterwards.

      The incident, which took place as Scotland was still under stringent lockdown, was initially reported by some media outlets as a potential terrorist attack, although police later dismissed this explanation. It was immediately seized on by rightwing activists, to claim that the country was threatened by an influx of “illegal” immigrants.

      Instead, the Park Inn incident has highlighted the increasingly precarious situation of people who seek a safe haven in the UK, even as the government proposes more severe measures to deter them. Adam is one of three asylum seekers who have died in Glasgow since the start of the pandemic, a series of events that has shocked the city, and left campaigners and politicians calling for a public inquiry.

      At the end of March, B, a 30-year-old Syrian who spoke to the Observer on condition of anonymity, was one of several hundred asylum seekers in Glasgow who unexpectedly received a knock on the door. He had been sent to Scotland’s largest city after arriving in the UK the previous autumn. Glasgow hosts about 10% of the 35,000 people who claim asylum in the UK each year, under a policy known as dispersal. Like other recent arrivals, B was living in his own small apartment; a two-room space in a hostel. He had his own bathroom, and he had privacy.

      At the door, however, was an employee of Mears Group, the Home Office contractor that manages asylum accommodation in Glasgow. “They said, ‘you need to get ready,’” B told the Observer, “‘you’re being moved to a hotel because of coronavirus.’” Across the city, hundreds of others were receiving the same call, as Mears abruptly moved about 350 asylum seekers – for the most part, recent arrivals who were living in temporary accommodation – into six hotels. Parliament heard in June that many received little or no notice, and that among them were pregnant women and survivors of trafficking and torture.

      In theory, this was a decision taken to ensure people’s safety during the pandemic. But, B said, when he arrived at his new accommodation, a bed and breakfast in the city centre, he found a “horrible situation”. More than 100 people had suddenly been thrust into communal living, sharing washing facilities and queueing for meals. Before, most had been receiving the standard asylum support payment of £37.50 a week, but because food was being provided, this was halted by the Home Office.

      “We didn’t have freedom,” B said. “We had no money, we couldn’t choose when to eat or what to eat, and nobody could tell us how long we would be there.” B was also concerned that social distancing was more difficult than in his previous home.

      Throughout April, the hotel population grew to more than 500 as asylum seekers continued to be sent to Glasgow. J, a young Iranian who arrived in the city that month, told the Observer – also on condition of anonymity – that while at first he found it a relief to be somewhere safe after a “painful” journey to the UK, the accommodation soon came to feel like a “stylish prison”. Both interviewees said that food sometimes arrived undercooked, and that this led to protests by residents.

      “We had so many people ask us, ‘when will this change?’” said Selina Hales, director of Refuweegee, one of several local charities that provided additional food parcels to hotel residents. “People were in a totally controlled environment and one of the main frustrations was the isolation.” A spokesperson for Mears told the Observer that meals were in line with NHS nutrition guidelines, and rated “good” in a survey of residents. They added that there were no recorded cases of Covid-19 in hotels during lockdown.

      According to the two asylum seekers, however, the fear and uncertainty prompted by this new situation began to take its toll on people’s mental health; B said that some of his friends were reminded of their experiences of being detained, either in the countries they had fled or on their journeys to the UK. “You could see people starting to unravel,” said Jack Macleod, 21, who worked for several months serving food to residents of the six hotels. Housing and welfare managers, employed by Mears, were available on site, but according to Macleod, many asylum seekers he spoke to felt abandoned.

      “People would come and talk to me,” said Macleod, “they would say ‘this place is making me really depressed’. The only thing I could say, because I’m not a counsellor, is ‘just try and hold on’.” Eventually, Macleod said, he left the job – a minimum-wage role he applied for via an agency when he lost his previous job at the start of the pandemic – because he felt he was being forced into the role of ad hoc social worker.

      Many asylum seekers suffer abuse before they reach the UK, and the Observer spoke to several people who work with refugees in Glasgow who described how the hotel conditions exacerbated some people’s existing psychological trauma. “We got used to hearing people express suicidal thoughts,” said Dylan Fotoohi, a Glasgow-based activist who helped organise food distribution during lockdown, and has since co-founded the campaign group Refugees for Justice. The spokesperson for Mears said all residents had access to mental health support through a dedicated NHS team. During lockdown, however, this team was stretched as members were seconded to hospital coronavirus wards.

      On 5 May, Adnan Olbeh, a 30-year-old Syrian, was found dead in his room at McLays guest house, one of the six hotels. According to friends, Olbeh had been detained and tortured in Libya, on his journey to Europe, and was complaining of flashbacks. In response, the Scottish Refugee Council – the country’s leading refugee charity – sent a letter to the UK home secretary asking for urgent action to “lessen the risk of further tragedies” in the hotels. There was no reply. The Observer has seen a copy of this letter, dated 14 May, but a spokesperson for the Home Office said they did not receive it.

      It was not until the stabbings in June – six weeks after Olbeh’s death – that some people began to be moved out of the hotels: the Park Inn was evacuated soon after the incident, and many of the residents were later rehoused in apartments. But why did the Home Office and its contractor find it necessary to put so many there in the first place? In public statements, Mears has said that it was partly for health and safety reasons: housing people together reduced the number of trips across Glasgow that staff had to make during lockdown, and made it easier for health workers to visit asylum seekers.

      Another possible reason is that it was running out of places to house people. Since 2012, asylum accommodation has been outsourced to a set of private contractors, but the system has been beset with problems: a report by the National Audit Office in July found that “providers had struggled to establish their supply chains, resulting in poor performance, delays and additional costs”.

      One particular pressure point is in the provision of what’s known as “initial accommodation” – the temporary housing that people who have no means to support themselves are placed in when they arrive in the UK. Mears, one of the UK’s largest private social housing providers, took over the contract that covers Glasgow in September last year, from the outsourcing giant Serco. Within weeks, it was facing a shortage of accommodation.

      In response, the company began renting serviced apartments – short-term lets, normally used by tourists and visitors to the city – on the open market. On 22 April, a spokesperson for Mears Group told the Scottish news website the Ferret that it had been using these short-term lets, and that it had been forced to move people into hotels because of “restrictions on the property market” brought by the pandemic.

      The spokesperson stressed that this decision was taken to ensure the “safety and wellbeing” of the asylum seekers, but was such a move really in people’s best interests? A condition of the Home Office housing contract is that providers must be “proactive” in identifying the needs of vulnerable people in their care – yet Mears’s account of whether it carried out adequate checks before moving people into hotels has been inconsistent.

      During the summer, parliament’s home affairs committee held hearings on the UK government’s response to the pandemic. In written evidence supplied to the committee on 10 June, Mears Group stated that it “risk assessed which service users it was appropriate to move, taking into account health advice”. At a press conference on 25 June, however, the company’s chief operating officer John Taylor described the move as a “blanket decision”. Once people were in hotels, he said, “it became obvious that there were vulnerabilities and that the hotel setting isn’t appropriate for some people”. The company then backtracked a few hours later, saying it held “discussions” with asylum seekers prior to deciding whether to move them. The Home Office also says that Mears held a meeting with each person before deciding whether or not to move them.

      In its report, published on 28 July, the home affairs committee advised that asylum seekers “should not have been moved to new accommodation during the pandemic without justified and urgent reasons for doing so, or without a vulnerability assessment demonstrating that the move could be made safely”. A spokesperson for the Home Office told the Observer that the department was conducting an evaluation of asylum accommodation and support services in Glasgow during the pandemic. On 24 August, however, Glasgow’s seven MPs walked out of a meeting with the Home Office, in protest at what they said was a refusal to commit to publish the evaluation, or share its results with them. In an open letter, the MPs stressed their dismay and anger at the “mistreatment” of people who were “unceremoniously shunted, at very short notice, from safe, secure serviced accommodation into hotel rooms, for an indefinite period, with no money and no control”.

      Within hours of the stabbings at the Park Inn, the incident attracted the attention of rightwing activists. “Horrible tragedy in a Glasgow hotel housing illegal immigrants,” tweeted the Brexit party leader Nigel Farage. “All over the UK, hotels are filling up with young men who are coming across the Channel every day. It is a massive risk to our wellbeing.”

      Farage’s comments were immediately condemned by a range of politicians, including Scotland’s justice minister. But throughout the pandemic, Farage has used his platform to encourage a sense of crisis around asylum, describing the recent rise in boat journeys across the Channel as an “invasion” and publishing short films on social media in which he claims to “investigate” the use of hotels across the country to house migrants. Members of the fascist group Britain First have also tried to exploit the issue, forcing their way into several hotels in England, confronting and intimidating residents on camera.

      All this, combined with the government’s own tough talk on migration, gives the impression that the UK is experiencing an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers. Yet although there was a slight increase in asylum claims last year, they fell sharply in the first six months of 2020. While more than 2,000 people crossed the Channel in boats during this period – a phenomenon that has dominated the headlines – arrivals by other routes dropped from 8,455 to 4,850, according to the head of UK Visas and Immigration.

      Rather, the increased use of hotels is due to a combination of the pandemic and a housing system that was already struggling to cope. While many hotels were hired by local authorities and government housing contractors during lockdown – both for asylum seekers who had nowhere else to live, and rough sleepers, some of whom may also come from migrant backgrounds – their use as temporary asylum accommodation was already on the rise. According to a recent briefing by the House of Commons library, shortly before lockdown, about 1,200 asylum seekers were being housed in “contingency accommodation” such as hotels or short-term lets, because of shortages.

      At the same time, delays in processing asylum claims – which mean people spend more time in state-provided housing, putting further pressure on space – have soared: about 40,000 people currently wait more than six months for a decision on their claim, an increase of 75% compared with a year ago. In an attempt to deal with the backlog, the Home Office is now considering outsourcing the asylum interview process to private contractors. Today, about 9,500 asylum-seekers are being housed in 91 hotels across the UK. The government has also modified several disused military barracks to accommodate new arrivals, in conditions exposed in the Observer last week as “squalid”. A Home Office spokesperson said that the use of former military sites “will ease our reliance on hotels and save the taxpayer money”.

      Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council, is worried that the use of mass accommodation will become the norm. “We are deeply concerned about this shift in asylum housing policy,” he said. “People have come here for protection, and need to be supported to rebuild their lives, not pushed to the margins.”

      Alison Phipps, a professor at the University of Glasgow and an expert in refugee integration, shares Zazai’s concerns. “People are arriving from situations where they’ve lived in fear,” she said, “and the question should be, how do you put people as quickly as possible in a situation where they can live in safety and be able to integrate? You can’t do that when you put people in managed facilities that are separate from the population. It’s not far from a prison regime.”

      In Glasgow, several hundred people are still being housed in three city hotels, which Mears has said will continue until at least the beginning of next year. Some residents have now been there for more than five months. “Hotels are never a long-term solution,” the company acknowledged, explaining that it is still having difficulty finding alternative accommodation in the city. The hardship asylum seekers face was emphasised once again in August, when Mercy Baguma, 34, from Uganda, was found dead at home next to her severely malnourished child. The circumstances of her death are still unclear – Baguma was reportedly seeking asylum, although she was not being housed in one of the hotels – but on 20 September, Glasgow’s MPs called for a public inquiry into all three deaths.

      “We take the wellbeing of everyone in the asylum system extremely seriously,” said the Home Office spokesperson. “These deaths are deeply tragic and our thoughts are with the families of these individuals.”

      Currently, Scotland’s police complaints body is conducting an investigation into the use of firearms at the Park Inn. But this will not examine what caused Badreddin Abadlla Adam to attack people, or whether his actions could have been prevented. At the Park Inn, he was quiet and withdrawn until the night before the stabbings, when he threatened his neighbour for playing music too loudly. “He never came to anybody’s attention,” one witness told the Daily Record, explaining that Adam had become so frustrated at his situation that he’d asked to be allowed to return to Sudan. Residents of the Park Inn, several of whom were left traumatised by the attack, were offered counselling by Mears after being moved; a group of them handed a thank-you card to police officers a few days later.

      An inquiry, said Phipps, would be “about justice”. “The people of Glasgow, just like the people who were seriously injured in the attacks, and the hotel staff whose lives have changed radically over the last few months, deserve to know why it was that people were hothoused in this way, and why people are still living in accommodation that they have repeatedly said is bad for them.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/oct/18/from-sudan-to-the-park-inn-the-tragic-story-of-a-migrants-killing

  • Cities must act

    40,000 people are currently trapped on the Aegean islands, forced to live in overcrowded camps with limited medical services and inadequate sanitation.

    #Glasgow, sign this petition from @ActMust
    @ScotlandMustAct
    demanding relocation from the islands.

    https://twitter.com/scotrefcouncil/status/1253348493332267009

    #Ecosse #UK #villes-refuge #Glasgow #migrations #asile #réfugiés #Grèce #relocalisation #pétition

    –---

    Ajouté à la métaliste sur les villes-refuge :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/759145

    ping @isskein @karine4

    • #CitiesMustAct (qui fait partie de la #campagne #EuropeMustAct)

      #CitiesMustAct is a bold new campaign asking the citizens, councils and mayors of European towns and cities to pledge their support for the immediate relocation of asylum seekers on the Greek islands.

      In our previous campaigns we pushed for change on the EU level. From our interaction with EU leaders we have learned that they are hesitant or even unable to act because they believe that there is no broad support for helping refugees among European citizens. Let’s prove them wrong!

      On the 30th of March, the Mayor and citizens of Berlin pledged to take in 1,500 refugees. Now we are asking cities and towns across Europe to join Berlin in offering sanctuary to refugees in overcrowded camps on the Greek mainland and islands.

      As COVID-19 threatens a health crisis in densely overcrowded camps, we must act now to relieve pressure on these horrendous camps.

      Whilst cities may not have the legislative power to directly relocate refugees themselves, #CitiesMustAct will send a powerful message of citizen solidarity that governments and the EU can’t ignore!

      Join us in spreading the #CitiesMustAct campaign across Europe - join us today!


      http://www.europemustact.org/citiesmustact

    • Cities lobby EU to offer shelter to migrant children from Greece

      #Amsterdam, #Barcelona and #Leipzig among cities calling for action to ease humanitarian crisis

      Ten European cities have pledged shelter to unaccompanied migrant children living in desperate conditions on Greek island camps or near the Turkish border.

      Amsterdam, Barcelona and Leipzig are among the cities that have written to European Union leaders, saying they are ready to offer a home to vulnerable children to ease what they call a rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis in Greece.

      “We can provide these children with what they now so urgently need: to get out of there, to have a home, to be safe, to have access to medical care and to be looked after by dedicated people,” the letter states.

      But the cities can only make good on their pledge if national governments agree. Seven of the 10 local government signatories to the letter are in countries that have not volunteered to take in children under a relocation effort launched by the European commission in March.

      #Rutger_Groot_Wassink, Amsterdam’s deputy mayor for social affairs, said it was disappointing the Dutch government had declined to join the EU relocation scheme. He believes Dutch cities could house 500 children, with “30-35, maybe 40 children” being brought to Amsterdam.

      “It’s not that we can send a plane in and pick them up, because you need the permission of the national government. But we feel we are putting pressure on our national government, which has been reluctant to move on this issue,” he said.

      The Dutch government – a four-party liberal-centre-right coalition – has so far declined to join the EU relocation effort, despite requests by Groot Wassink, who is a member of the Green party.

      “It might have something to do with the political situation in the Netherlands, where there is a huge debate on refugees and migrants and the national government doesn’t want to be seen as refugee-friendly. From the perspective of some of the parties they feel that they do enough. They say they are helping Greece and of course there is help for Greece.”

      If the Dutch government lifted its opposition, Groot Wassink said transfers could happen fairly quickly, despite coronavirus restrictions. “If there is a will it can be done even pretty soon,” he said.

      Ten EU countries – Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Luxembourg and Lithuania – have pledged to take in at least 1,600 lone children from the Greek islands, just under a third of the 5,500 unaccompanied minors estimated to be in Greece.

      So far, only a small number have been relocated: 12 to Luxembourg and 47 to Germany.

      The municipal intervention chimes with comments from the German Social Democrat MEP Brigit Sippel, who said earlier this month that she knew of “cities and German Länder who are ready … tomorrow, to do more”. The MEP said Germany’s federal government was moving too slowly and described the initial transfer of 47 children as “ridiculous”.

      Amsterdam, with Utrecht, organised the initiative through the Eurocities network, which brings together more than 140 of the continent’s largest municipalities, including 20 UK cities. The UK’s home secretary, Priti Patel, has refused calls to take in lone children from the Greek islands.

      Groot Wassink said solidarity went beyond the EU’s borders. He said: “You [the UK] are still part of Europe.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/24/cities-lobby-eu-to-offer-shelter-to-migrant-children-from-greece
      #Barcelone #îles #vulnérabilité #enfants #MNA #mineurs_non_accompagnés

    • Migrants and mayors are the unsung heroes of COVID-19. Here’s why

      - Some of the most pragmatic responses to COVID-19 have come from mayors and governors.
      - The skills and resourcefulness of refugees and migrants are also helping in the fight against the virus.
      - It’s time for international leaders to start following suit.

      In every crisis it is the poor, sick, disabled, homeless and displaced who suffer the most. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Migrants and refugees, people who shed one life in search for another, are among the most at risk. This is because they are often confined to sub-standard and overcrowded homes, have limited access to information or services, lack the financial reserves to ride out isolation and face the burden of social stigma.

      Emergencies often bring out the best and the worst in societies. Some of the most enlightened responses are coming from the world’s governors and mayors. Local leaders and community groups from cities as diverse as #Atlanta, #Mogadishu (https://twitter.com/cantoobo/status/1245051780787994624?s=12) and #Sao_Paulo (https://www.docdroid.net/kSmLieL/covid19-pmsao-paulo-city-april01-pdf) are setting-up dedicated websites for migrants, emergency care and food distribution facilities, and even portable hand-washing stations for refugees and internally displaced people. Their actions stand in glaring contrast to national decision-makers, some of whom are looking for scapegoats.

      Mayors and city officials are also leading the charge when it comes to recovery. Global cities from #Bogotá (https://www.eltiempo.com/bogota/migrantes-en-epoca-de-coronavirus-en-bogota-se-avecina-una-crisis-478062) to #Barcelona (https://reliefweb.int/report/spain/barcelonas-show-solidarity-time-covid-19) are introducing measures to mitigate the devastating economic damages wrought by the lockdown. Some of them are neutralizing predatory landlords by placing moratoriums on rent hikes and evictions. Others are distributing food through schools and to people’s doorsteps as well as providing cash assistance to all residents, regardless of their immigration status.

      Cities were already in a tight spot before COVID-19. Many were facing serious deficits and tight budgets, and were routinely asked to do ‘more with less’. With lockdowns extended in many parts of the world, municipalities will need rapid financial support. This is especially true for lower-income cities in Africa, South Asia and Latin America where migrants, refugees and other vulnerable groups risk severe hunger and even starvation. They also risk being targeted if they try and flee. International aid donors will need to find ways to direct resources to cities and allow them sizeable discretion in how those funds are used.

      Philanthropic groups and city networks around the world are rapidly expanding their efforts to protect and assist migrants and refugees. Take the case of the #Open_Society_Foundations, which is ramping up assistance to New York City, Budapest and Milan to help them battle the pandemic while bolstering safety nets for the most marginal populations. Meanwhile, the #Clara_Lionel_and_Shawn_Carter_Foundations in the US have committed millions in grants to support undocumented workers in Los Angeles and New York (https://variety-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/variety.com/2020/music/news/rihanna-jay-z-foundations-donate-million-coronavirus-relief-1203550018/amp). And inter-city coalitions, like the #US_Conference_of-Mayors (https://www.usmayors.org/issues/covid-19) and #Eurocities (http://www.eurocities.eu/eurocities/documents/EUROCITIES-reaction-to-the-Covid-19-emergency-WSPO-BN9CHB), are also helping local authorities with practical advice about how to strengthen preparedness and response.

      The truth is that migrants and refugees are one of the most under-recognized assets in the fight against crises, including COVID-19. They are survivors. They frequently bring specialized skills to the table, including expertise in medicine, nursing, engineering and education. Some governments are catching on to this. Take the case of Portugal, which recently changed its national policies to grant all migrants and asylum seekers living there permanent residency, thus providing access to health services, social safety nets and the right to work. The city of #Buenos_Aires (https://www.lanacion.com.ar/sociedad/coronavirus-municipios-provincia-buenos-aires-sumaran-medicos-nid234657) authorized Venezuelan migrants with professional medical degrees to work in the Argentinean healthcare system. #New_York (https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20210-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating), #New_Jersey (https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/20200401b.shtml) and others have cleared the way for immigrant doctors without US licenses to provide patient care during the current pandemic.

      There are several steps municipal governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations should take to minimize the impacts of COVID-19 on migrants and displaced people. For one, they need to clearly account for them in their response and recovery plans, including ensuring free access to healthy food and cash assistance. Next, they could strengthen migrant associations and allow qualified professionals to join the fight against infectious disease outbreaks. What is more, they could ensure access to basic services like housing, electricity, healthcare and education - and information about how to access them in multiple languages - as Portugal has done.

      Mayors are on the frontline of supporting migrants and refugees, often in the face of resistance from national authorities. Consider the experience of Los Angeles’s mayor, #Eric_Garcetti (https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/04/08/coronavirus-garcetti-relief-businesses-immigrants), who recently called on the US Congress to provide rapid relief to roughly 2.5 million undocumented immigrants in California. Or the mayor of Uganda’s capital #Kampala, #Erias_Lukwago (https://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Opposition-gives-out-food-to-poor-despite-Museveni-ban/688334-5518340-hd23s8/index.html), who has resorted to distributing food himself to poor urban residents despite bans from the central government. At the same time, #Milan ’s mayor, #Giuseppe_Sala (https://www.corriere.it/economia/finanza/20_aprile_13/sala-sindaci-europei-alla-crisi-si-risponde-piu-solidarieta-attenzione-citt), wrote to the European Union to urgently request access to financial aid. These three mayors also lead the #Mayors_Migration_Council, a city coalition established to influence international migration policy and share resources (https://docs.google.com/document/u/1/d/e/2PACX-1vRqMtCR8xBONCjntcDmiKv0m4-omNzJxkEB2X2gMZ_uqLeiiQv-m2Pb9aZq4AlDvw/pub) with local leaders around the world.

      The truth is that refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people are not sitting idly by; in some cases they are the unsung heroes of the pandemic response. Far from being victims, migrants and displaced people reflect the best of what humanity has to offer. Despite countless adversities and untold suffering, they are often the first to step up and confront imminent threats, even giving their lives (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/world/europe/coronavirus-doctors-immigrants.html) in the process. The least we can all do is protect them and remove the obstacles in the way of letting them participate in pandemic response and recovery. Mayors have got this; it’s now time for national and international decision-makers to follow suit.

      https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/migrants-and-mayors-are-the-unsung-heroes-of-covid-19-heres-why
      #Mogadisho

      signalé par @thomas_lacroix

    • *Bologna: il Consiglio comunale per la regolarizzazione dei

      migranti irregolari*
      Il Consiglio Comunale di Bologna oggi ha approvato, con 18 voti favorevoli e 6 contrari, un ordine del giorno per ottenere un provvedimento di regolarizzazione dei migranti attualmente soggiornanti in territorio italiano in condizione di irregolarità originaria o sopravvenuta, con la massima tempestività, data l’emergenza sanitaria in corso.

      L’ordine del giorno è stato presentato dal consigliere Federico Martelloni (Coalizione civica) e firmato dai consiglieri Clancy (Coalizione civica), Frascaroli (Città comune), Palumbo (gruppo misto-Nessuno resti indietro), Errani, Persiano, Campaniello, Mazzoni, Li Calzi, Colombo (Partito Democratico), Bugani, Piazza, Foresti (Movimento 5 stelle). Ecco il testo :

      “Il Consiglio Comunale di Bologna, a fronte dello stato di emergenza sanitaria da Covid-19 in corso e delle misure assunte dal Governo nazionale e dalle Giunte locali per contrastarne la diffusione e limitarne l’impatto sulla popolazione attualmente presente sul territorio. Ritenuto che non trova spazio nell’odierno dibattito pubblico, segnato dalla predetta emergenza, l’esigenza di assumere provvedimenti che sanino la posizione dei migranti che soggiornano irregolarmente nel nostro Paese, tema oggetto dell’ordine del giorno votato il 23 dicembre 2019 dalla Camera dei Deputati in sede di approvazione della legge di bilancio, adottato col fine di produrre molteplici benefici per la collettività , a partire dal fatto che: a) si offrirebbe l’opportunità di vivere e lavorare legalmente nel nostro Paese a chi già si trova sul territorio ma che , senza titolo di soggiorno , è spesso costretto per sopravvivere a rivolgersi ai circuiti illeciti ; b) si andrebbe incontro ai tanti datori di lavoro che , bisognosi di personale, non possono assumere persone senza documenti , anche se già formati, e ricorrono al lavoro in nero ; c) si avrebbero maggiore contezza – e conseguentemente controllo – delle presenze sui nostri territori di alcune centinaia di migliaia di persone di cui poco o nulla si sa , e, conseguentemente, maggiore sicurezza per tutti.

      Dato atto chetale esigenza è stata ribadita, alla vigilia della dichiarazione dello stato di pandemia, dalla ministra dell’interno Lamorgese in data 15 gennaio 2020, in Risposta a interrogazione orale, confermando che “L’intenzione del Governo e del Ministero dell’Interno è quella di valutare le questioni poste all’ordine del giorno che richiamavo in premessa, nel quadro più generale di una complessiva rivisitazione delle diverse disposizioni che incidono sulle politiche migratorie e sulla condizione dello straniero in Italia” (resoconto stenografico della seduta della Camera dei Deputati del 15 gennaio 2020, pag. 22).Tenuto conto che il tema della regolarizzazione degli stranieri irregolarmente soggiornanti diventa ancor più rilevante e urgente nella contingenza che ci troviamo ad attraversare, come giustamente rimarcato nell’Appello per la sanatoria dei migranti irregolari al tempo dei Covid-19, elaborato e sottoscritto da centinaia di associazioni (visibile al seguente indirizzo: https://www.meltingpot.org/Appello-per-la-sanatoria-dei-migranti-irregolari-ai-tempi.html#nb1), atteso che alle buone ragioni della sanatoria si aggiungono , oggi, anche le esigenze di tutela della salute collettiva, compresa quella delle centinaia di migliaia di migranti privi del permesso di soggiorno, che non hanno accesso alla sanità pubblica. Considerato che l’Appello richiamato al punto che precede giustamente sottolinea che il migrante irregolare:-non è ovviamente iscritto al Sistema Sanitario Nazionale e di conseguenza non dispone di un medico di base, avendo diritto alle sole prestazioni sanitarie urgenti ;-non si rivolge alle strutture sanitarie nei casi di malattia lieve, mentre, nei casi più gravi non ha alternativa al presentarsi al pronto soccorso , il che contrasterebbe con tutti i protocolli adottati per contenere la diffusione del virus. – è costretto a soluzioni abitative di fortuna , in ambienti spesso degradati e insalubri, condivisi con altre persone .Considerato,in definitiva,che i soggetti “invisibili” sono per molti aspetti più esposti al contagio del virus e più di altri rischiano di subirne le conseguenze sia sanitarie, per la plausibile mancanza di un intervento tempestivo, sia sociali, per lo stigma cui rischiano di essere sottoposti a causa di responsabilità e inefficienze non loro ascrivibili .Assunto che iniziative di tal fatta sono all’ordine del giorno anche in altri paesi dell’Unione, avendo il governo del Portogallo già approvato una sanatoria per l’immediata regolarizzazione di tutti i migranti in attesa di permesso di soggiorno che avessero presentato domanda alla data di dichiarazione dell’emergenza Coronavirus, per consentirne l’accesso al sistema sanitario nazionale, all’apertura di conti correnti bancari; alle misure economiche straordinarie di protezione per persone e famiglie in condizioni di fragilità ; alla regolarizzazione dei rapporti di lavoro .Condivide l’urgenza di intercettare centinaia di migliaia di persone attualmente prive di un regolare permesso di soggiorno, per contenere il loro rischio di contrarre il virus; perché possano con tranquillità usufruire dei servizi della sanità pubblica nel caso di sintomatologia sospetta; perché non diventino loro malgrado veicolo di trasmissione del virus, con tutte le nefaste conseguenze che possono derivarne nei territori, incluso il territorio di Bologna.

      Invita il Sindaco e la Giunta a dare massima diffusione, anche attraverso i canali di comunicazione istituzionale, agli appelli e alle iniziative finalizzate ad ottenere un provvedimento di regolarizzazione dei migranti attualmente soggiornanti in territorio italiano in condizione d’irregolarità originaria o sopravvenuta .a farsi promotore, in tutte le sedi istituzionali, a partire dall’ANCI, delle iniziative volte a ottenere l’adozione di un provvedimento di regolarizzazione ed emersione degli stranieri irregolarmente soggiornanti, con la massima tempestività richiesta dell’emergenza sanitaria oggi in corso.

      https://www.pressenza.com/it/2020/04/bologna-il-consiglio-comunale-per-la-regolarizzazione-dei-migranti-irrego
      #Bologne #régularisation

  • Asylum seekers’ lives ‘put at risk’ by decision to move them to hotels

    Hundreds of asylum seekers claim their lives are being put at risk after they were moved out of their flats and into #Glasgow hotels where they are unable to isolate to protect themselves from coronavirus.

    Financial support of £35 per week has been stopped by the Home Office and replaced with communal meals, eaten alongside others in the hotel dining rooms.

    A video provided to The Ferret shows that many door handles at the hotels must be pulled open en route to meals. Another shows a tea and coffee station where, it is claimed, everyone must open the same coffee jar and pour water from a shared urn.

    The Ferret understands that over 500 asylum seekers, who include new arrivals and those on emergency section 4 support, are being housed in three city centre hotels.

    They include asylum seekers living in Mears Group flats in Glasgow, others newly entitled to accommodation from the provider, as well as those being bussed into the city from across the UK.

    The first moves started two weeks ago, but some people were still being moved on Wednesday 22 April. The Ferret was told that one family has been moved, despite assurances given to charities that none would be affected.

    Concerns have been raised that Covid-19 is disproportionately affecting black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

    On 20 April new data from NHS England revealed they accounted for 16 per cent of positive tests, though only 7.5 per cent of the population is Asian and three per cent black.

    Asylum seekers told The Ferret they were contacted without notice by housing provider Mears Group, which took over the housing contract from Serco last September, and told they had 20 minutes to pack all their belongings for the move.

    They claim they were picked up in a van with others who they did not know, and that no masks were provided. However a spokesperson for Mears Group said they followed government health advice.

    In some cases ‘Aspen’ debit cards on to which asylum support of £35 a week is paid had already stopped working. In others support was terminated after arrival at the hotel, leaving people without any access to cash for essentials like sanitary products or toiletries, phone top-ups, paracetamol or clothing.

    Three meals a day are provided at the hotels, which must be eaten in the shared dining room at set times. It is claimed that social distancing measures are not being respected in corridors, elevators or dinning rooms. Others are fearful that they may pick up the virus from door handles and elevator buttons used by all residents on their way to meals.

    One man told The Ferret he and his brother had been moved to a city centre hotel 12 days ago. He estimates about 75 other asylum seekers are staying there.

    They had been living in a two-bedroom Glasgow flat provided by Mears Group since they arrived in the UK in December.

    “A man from Mears came to the door and said there was an order by the Home Office to move us to a hotel,” he said. “He told me: “You have 10-30 mins to pack. I have been here for five months that was not possible for me.”

    In the end he left after less than two hours, leaving some food – which he is unable to cook in the hotel – behind.

    He was picked up in a van, with two other men. While a board separated the driver, there was no protection provided for the passengers.

    Now, his support has stopped and communal meals are provided in the hotel dining room. The rest of their time is spent in their rooms. “Everything has got much worse for us since we moved here,” he said. “We have to go down to the dining room and we all have to touch the same doors.”

    “It’s like being in jail,” added the man. “Everybody feels the same. We spend all day in our rooms but we don’t want to sleep. We don’t know what we are doing here.

    “It feels like no-one cares. We have been abandoned.”

    Another man, who asked to be known only as Mohamed, said that he was moved on 21 April into a city-centre hotel where over 100 other asylum seekers were being housed.

    He has previously been self-isolating at a flat provided by Positive Action in Housing but after his application for emergency support – known as Section 4 – was approved by the Home Office on the grounds that he is unable to travel, he was put in a hotel.

    “I thought my situation was going to get better but it’s worse,” he said. “No-one here has any gloves, we still use the elevator. It makes no sense. I’ve seen pregnant women staying here too, and it’s them I feel really sorry for.

    “From here I can go for a walk down to the river but that’s it – then I’m back to my room. We are just stuck here and nobody is communicating anything. We don’t have any money for phone tops or anything.”

    Gary Christie, head of policy at Scottish Refugee Council said many people had been moved without “proper explanation” of why they had to leave, and how long they would be moved for.

    “It’s confusing and frightening for people and raises serious concerns about how the Home Office communicates and shares vital information,” he said.

    “People can’t stay in hotels forever. We need to know how the Home Office plans to accommodate people when lockdown restrictions ease so charities, local authorities and other partners can support any further moves.

    “We’re also really concerned that people in hotels are not receiving cash support that’s needed for phone top ups and other essentials. We’re seeking urgent answers on this from the Home Office.”

    Ana Santamarina, an activist from the No Evictions Network supporting asylum seekers, said that many people had phoned to say they were frightened by the lack of social distancing measures. Others reported that their support had stopped.

    She called for the situation to be urgently resolved. “People want to be back in their homes,” she told The Ferret. “They feel so disempowered – they can’t even take decisions like what or when they eat. They need to have their asylum support back.

    “This virus disproportionately affects a vulnerable population, and this is making people even more vulnerable.”

    A spokesman for Mears Group said the decision was made due to a shortage of suitable accommodation.

    He added: “Mears had been utilising short term let accommodation in Glasgow to house new applicants into the city whilst they were supported prior to move into a more long term accommodation pending a decision on their application for Asylum.

    “Unfortunately with the current Covid-19 emergency the ability to move people on in the time they are allowed to be in these short lets was severely limited due to restrictions on the property market and general movement within the service.

    “Therefore we had no alternative but to procure hotel space where we can safely and appropriately house and support each person with food and health services without restriction on time of residence.

    “All movement of the people concerned was undertaken in accordance with health authority guidance on social distancing and use of personal protective equipment. The safety and wellbeing of each person is paramount and Mears are working hard to ensure we meet all obligations at this very difficult time.”

    A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said, as far as the council was aware, the use of hotels had been agreed for new arrivals. She added: “We would expect people to be able to adhere to the lockdown and guidance on social distancing in any accommodation provided.”

    A Home Office spokesperson said:”We are only moving asylum seekers where it is necessary, strictly following guidance from public health authorities, and into accommodation that ensures social distancing. This is to help stop the spread of the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.”

    https://theferret.scot/asylum-seekers-moved-hotel-lives-at-risk-covid-19
    #Ecosse #UK #asile #réfugiés #migrations #hôtel #hôtels #covid-19 #coronavirus
    ping @thomas_lacroix @isskein

  • Everyday racism : exhibition heading to Glasgow

    A NEW photography exhibition aims to shine a light on the every day experiences of racism faced by people of colour in Glasgow and foster conversations on how best to tackle discrimination.

    The exhibition, which opens at the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art (GOMA) this week, features 10 photographs by Karen Gordon, taken in collaboration with her subjects. It examines the common place racism experienced by the project’s participants that often went unnoticed by the white population around them.

    Participants, who all live in Glasgow, told Gordon about experiences of being stopped and searched at airports and taken aside for questioning by plain clothes police officers.
    Others had gone through their twenties being turned away from pubs and nightclubs by bouncers, although this did not happen to their white friends. One actor with Scottish Asian heritage said that being told he “did not have the right look” at castings was such a common experience that it was a “running joke” amongst BAME actors.

    One black man spoke about the “dirty looks” and “handbags clutched” if he was wearing a hoodie, while several others spoke of sensing racist judgments being made based on the colour of their skin. One black women recalled when a music tutor she had just met reached out unprompted to touch her hair.

    Gordon, who has worked as a photographer with Maryhill Integration Network – which supports refugee and migrant communities – for many years said she was inspired to start the project after realising that even though she had been involved in anti-racism work she was still not aware of the daily nature of racism directed at people of colour.

    She said: “As someone who has been trying to tackle racism all my life I realised there was still so much that I was unaware of. What are the insidious things that people don’t talk about? Glasgow can seem quite diverse and welcoming due to that, but when you start to go under the surface its more complicated.

    “The most important thing for me was that the participant was happy with the portrayal, so that was a huge part of the project and I worked very closely with people.

    “A lot of white people say they don’t see colour and that is only because they have never had to see it. It’s such a huge issue. I see the photographs as a way of starting a bigger conversation about this.”

    Nida Akif, a 21-year-old student, who both took part in and worked on the project, said that it had helped her to deepen her own understanding of the structural racism that she had sometimes struggled to name when she was younger.

    “For me what is often frustrating is that you experience something that is not outward racism but it’s more that it is an underlying thing,” she said.

    The photograph featuring Akif depicts an experience she had in an art gallery.

    She and a friend – both of Pakistani heritage and wearing headscarves – were told to stop taking photographs. The white people doing the same around them continued to do so unchecked.

    “It’s something that you can’t report because it’s treated as just being a suspicion,” she said. “When I started to speak to others about this I realised that as someone who is brown, who is Asian and wears a hijab I think about [how I am viewed] every day ... when I’m on the train and someone doesn’t sit next to me, when I go for job interviews.”

    THE increasing racist attitudes in Britain have also affected Akif and her friends, she claimed, with many of them deciding to remove their hijabs and headscarves because they felt it made them too visible.

    She said of the exhibition: “I hope that it will showcase the experiences people are having and will help tackle ignorance.”

    Concerns have been growing about the way that racist attitudes are being normalised by the racist and Islamophobic comments made by our most high-profile politicians.

    Last August Boris Johnston was widely condemned for saying Muslim women wearing burkas “look like letter boxes”, yet went on to become Prime Minister regardless. Meanwhile the “hostile environment” policies that led to the Windrush scandal have remained a cornerstone of Conservative government strategy.

    https://www.thenational.scot/news/18071789.everyday-racism-exhibition-heading-goma
    #racisme_ordinaire #racisme #xénophobie #Glasgow #photographie #peau #couleur_de_peau #Karen_Gordon

    Le site de la photographe :
    https://karengordonphotography.blog

    Et la présentation de son travail #Everyday_racism :
    https://karengordonphotography.blog/everyday-racism

    ... notamment avec cette photo qui clairement mentionne la question des #cheveux


    #cheveux_crépus

    ... ou celle-ci qui aborde la question de la #classe_sociale et du #travail :

    ping @albertocampiphoto @philippe_de_jonckheere

  • Ruling allowing Serco to evict asylum seekers sets ‘dangerous precedent’

    Campaigners are warning that a “dangerous precedent” has been set by a “brutal” ruling from Scotland’s highest court that evicting asylum seekers by changing their locks is lawful.

    The judgement means an estimated 150 people in Glasgow can now be evicted. The Inner House of the Court of Session rejected an appeal by Govan Law Centre and upheld an earlier court verdict in favour of the multinational housing provider, Serco.

    Most of those affected have had their pleas for asylum refused and have no right to public funds. They now face street homelessness even though they may working on appeals to Home Office decisions to deport them. Serco claimed it could now evict up to 20 people per week.

    Lawyers, including those from the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said they had “serious” concerns that the judgement meant the rights of vulnerable people living in Scotland would be breached.

    The court found that because Serco is a private organisation, it does not have to meet human rights obligations. The company lost its Home Office contract to house asylum seekers in Glasgow to the Mears Group in September.

    If the court had found in Govan Law Centre’s favour, Serco would have been forced to get a court order before making each eviction, giving asylum seekers greater protection. The company has previously sought court orders in some cases.

    At a press conference held by Govan Law Centre, which was representing clients in the case, those living in Serco accommodation and facing eviction spoke about their fears of ending up on the streets in the depths of winter.

    Campaigners said they had deep concerns for clients and were frustrated that many of those facing eviction are still fighting appeals. People can spend years in the asylum system, falling in and out of destitution and their right to accommodation, before their right to protection is recognised.

    Lorna Walker, instructing solicitor for Govan Law Centre, said: “To lose your home and become street homeless, especially when you have no right to public funds, is one of the worst things that could happen to a human being.

    “It is our position that without a court of law the outcome can be catastrophic. We are deeply concerned that it is held that the human rights act does not extend far enough to protect this most vulnerable group of people from being evicted.”

    Khadija Anwar, from Kenya, spoke of her shock and confusion following the decision. She and her husband, Muhammad, from Pakistan, are facing eviction from their Serco flat after having their case refused. Now in their seventies, they have been destitute for five months, relying on support from Positive Action in Housing, food banks and other charities.

    “Both of us are very tired,” she said. “I am struggling with arthritis and vertigo and my husband has heart problems, dementia problems. It’s very difficult.”

    She added: “Already I can’t bear this cold, even inside the house. How can they do this? Do they think we can stay out on the street in this cold? I’m so worried about my husband, my loving husband. This is not the stage where we can leave [the UK] without each other.”

    Robina Qureshi, chief executive of Positive Action on Housing, said: “What the court has done is legally institute a form of housing apartheid in Glasgow where one section of our community have their housing and human rights upheld, yet another can be dragged from their homes and on to the streets without recourse to public funds, to work or any form of support.

    “What does an eviction without due process look like? Where are the police, where are the sheriffs officers? Serco and other private housing companies now have carte blanche. They have the freedom to do this. What we have seen that people are enduring destitution for years and finally getting leave to remain.

    “But the fight does not stop here. And we are ready for it.”

    Positive Action on Housing is hoping to find additional capacity in its rooms for refugees programme, where volunteer hosts offer someone a bed. But Qureshi acknowledged it was not a perfect set-up, claiming people should be able to build their lives without the support of charity.

    Currently the only other option is the Glasgow Night Shelter for Destitute Asylum Seekers, which has space for about 20 men but is often full. The Glasgow Winter Shelter will not open until December.

    Govan Law Centre is currently consulting with clients. But it may appeal to the UK Supreme Court, while the Scottish Human Rights Commission, which intervened in the case, confirmed it is also considering further legal action.

    Judith Robertson, chair of the commission, said: “We have serious concerns about the implications of this ruling, both for the people directly affected and for the protection of human rights more broadly.

    “The court’s finding that Serco is not acting as a public authority in this context, and therefore is not bound by human rights legal obligations, has profound consequences for how people’s rights are protected when public services are delivered by private providers.

    “Governments should not be able to divest themselves of their human rights obligations by outsourcing the provision of public services.”

    Fiona McPhail, Shelter Scotland’s principle solicitor, agreed the decision was “deeply concerning”. She added: “It’s the state that has the statutory obligation to accommodate asylum seekers. If by privatising those services, the state can avoid its obligations under human rights law, this sets a dangerous precedent.”

    Glasgow City Council has recently made cuts of over £3m to existing homeless services. Shelter Scotland is taking the council to court for failing to meet its duty to accommodate homeless people.

    https://theferret.scot/serco-judgement-evictions-glasgow-lock-change
    #SDF #sans-abrisme #sans-abri #Ecosse #asile #migrations #réfugiés #UK #privatisation #serco #hébergement #logement

    • Lock change evictions ruled lawful

      Refugee Survival Trust fears a humanitarian crisis on Glasgow’s streets, as lock change evictions of asylum seekers approved by Court of Session.

      A humanitarian catastrophe created by the UK Home Office and Serco, its former housing contractor, will force hundreds of vulnerable asylum seekers onto the streets of #Glasgow, warns the Refugee Survival Trust.

      This follows a ruling by the Court of Session, which found Serco’s controversial ‘lock change’ eviction policy to be lawful. This ruling will see people who are fleeing war and persecution evicted from their homes and forced onto the city’s streets into destitution.

      Cath McGee, Destitute Asylum Seeker Service Manager at the Refugee Survival Trust said, “We’ve been hearing from asylum seekers living under enormous stress who have told us that they are terrified of losing the roof over their head in the harsh winter months. We now fear a humanitarian crisis on Glasgow’s streets involving hundreds of already vulnerable people who have no other means to support themselves as they cannot work or claim benefits.”

      “These people have nowhere else to go. They are not permitted to access homeless services so throwing them out of their homes onto the streets will place them at enormous risk. They have fled war and persecution and are seeking asylum in Scotland. Now they will be forced to fight for their daily survival.”

      “With their basic right to shelter taken from them they won’t have a postal address to collect important letters related to their asylum case. Nor will they be in a position to seek legal advice or gather new evidence to support a fresh asylum claim to help them stay in the UK.”

      Scots housing law prevents Scottish families from being evicted without a court order. The Refugee Survival Trust, a charity that leads the Destitute Asylum Seeker Service in Glasgow and provides practical support including small emergency cash grants to asylum seekers facing destitution, says this should apply to everyone in Scotland, regardless of their immigration status.
      “Vulnerable people seeking asylum should be afforded the same housing rights as Scottish families. We should not tolerate a system that treats people seeking international protection in this brutal way,” said Ms McGee.

      In September 2019, the #Mears_Group took over the contract to provide housing to asylum seekers in Glasgow. The Group is yet to give a formal undertaking that it won’t force asylum seekers into homelessness and destitution.

      “We’re calling on the Mears Group to make a public commitment that they won’t pursue lock change evictions to forcibly remove vulnerable people seeking asylum here in Scotland from their homes,” added Ms McGee.

      https://www.rst.org.uk/archives/3232

    • Disappointing decision on Serco lock changes

      Today the Court of Session found in favour of Serco in a test case for asylum seeker lock changes.

      Our Principal Solicitor Fiona McPhail commented:

      “This decision is deeply disappointing news for all those directly affected.

      “We now face a situation where around 300 people will be at risk of summary eviction, with no right to homeless assistance or no right to work to earn their own income to cover rent, meaning there is a high risk they will end up on the streets of Glasgow.

      “Our clients are continuing to progress their asylum claims and cannot return to their country of origin.

      “The finding that Serco is not a public authority and therefore does not need to comply with the Human Rights Act or the Equality Act is deeply concerning. It’s the state that has the statutory obligation to accommodate asylum seekers - if by privatising those services, the state can avoid its obligations under human rights and equalities law, this sets a dangerous precedent.

      Gordon MacRae, Assistant Director for Communications and Policy, Shelter Scotland said:

      “At Shelter Scotland we think there are both moral and legal cases to be heard. It is morally repugnant to force anyone out of their home with nowhere for them to go. Public bodies must not stand by while people face winter on the streets.

      “Shelter Scotland exist to protect everyone’s housing rights no matter their circumstances. We will continue to do what we can protect those whose rights are denied. “

      Fiona McPhail added:

      “The Court appears to have placed some emphasis on the type of case it was- and the fact that it was not a judicial review. Hopefully the solicitors in this case will reflect on these observations, as judicial review proceedings were raised by another party and have been put on hold whilst this case has been taken as the lead case.”

      https://scotland.shelter.org.uk/news/november_2019/disappointing_decision_on_serco_lock_changes

    • #Glasgow faces homeless crisis with asylum seeker evictions

      With temperatures plunging, night shelters scramble to deal with fallout after court ruled to allow ‘lock-change evictions’.

      Asylum seekers in Glasgow are facing the prospect of sleeping on the streets in freezing conditions when the wave of “lock-change evictions” – held off for nearly 18 months by public protests and legal challenges – finally begins in earnest over the next fortnight, with the only available night shelter already full to capacity and frontline workers desperately scrambling to secure more emergency accommodation.

      Earlier this month, Scotland’s highest court upheld a ruling that Serco, which claims it has been “demonised” over its controversial policy of changing the locks on the homes of refused asylum seekers, did not contravene Scottish housing law or human rights legislation. The private housing provider now plans to evict 20 people a week.
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      Annika Joy, who manages the Glasgow night shelter for destitute asylum seekers, is blunt about the prospects of avoiding a homelessness crisis across the city, where temperatures plummeted to below zero last week. “We don’t have any slack,” she says. “We have 24 beds here, booked to capacity every night. We believe there are already 150 asylum seekers at any time who are making survival decisions, perhaps being forced to sell sex or labour for accommodation, or sofa surfing. Now we estimate that another 150 people will be evicted by Serco over the winter.”

      Joy is painfully aware of how basic the shelter’s provisions are. There are no showers in the building, nor sufficient secure space where guests can store possessions. Without enough power for a catering cooker, the hot breakfasts and dinners provided with donated food are made on a minimal four-ring hob. In the bunk room itself, colourful blankets and sheets are draped around beds. It looks like a children’s sleepover party, but these are adult males desperately trying to create privacy among strangers, many of whom suffer from insomnia or night terrors.

      Refused asylum seekers in the UK find themselves in an almost uniquely unsupported position, with no right to homeless assistance or to work to provide for themselves.

      Graham O’Neill of the Scottish Refugee Council says many of those initially refused have their claims accepted on appeal – 55% according to most recent figures. A quarter of those Serco planned to evict when it first announced its lock-change policy in July 2018 have since returned to Section Four homelessness support.

      For O’Neill, there is a deep frustration that many of those still facing eviction are waiting weeks for decisions that should be made within days, or have fresh asylum claims ready but aren’t allowed to lodge them because of Home Office bureaucracy. “They are facing street homelessness, when actually in law they have an entitlement to support.”

      Joy says that a longer-term solution is needed across the city: “These are not people who will need a bed for a few nights until they have their lives sorted out, and we won’t end homelessness in Glasgow without a proper plan for asylum seekers.”

      The city is already facing a winter crisis, with demands for the council night shelter to open early because of freezing temperatures, while last month Shelter Scotland launched a judicial review that claims Glasgow city council has illegally denied temporary accommodation to homeless applicants.

      With this in mind, campaigners are working together with local housing associations and charities who have spare rooms, and in discussion with Glasgow’s city council and the Scottish government – who are limited because they are not legally allowed to directly fund accommodation for over-stayers - to put together a critical mass of long-term accommodation.

      The plan is to offer accommodation along with wraparound legal and health support, which can also serve the women who make up one in five of those facing eviction and who currently have nowhere to go.

      Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing, which has been supporting a number of those anticipating eviction, emphasises the long-term psychological toll of the lock-change policy, saying: “People are very frightened about the prospect of being turfed onto the street at any time.”

      Joy emphasises how much living circumstances impact on people’s capacity to access support. “It’s striking how many rights our guests who have been refused by the Home Office have. When people are less anxious about where they are going to spend the night, when they have the encouragement to open up about their experiences, we often discover new information that can help their claims.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/nov/27/glasgow-faces-homeless-crisis-with-asylum-seeker-evictions-set-to-begin

  • Glasgow launches detailed study of its historical links with transatlantic slavery

    THIRTY years ago, Glasgow gave the name “#Merchant_City” to a historic quarter of the city centre.

    Few eyebrows were raised at the time but, as Susan Aitken, the present leader of Glasgow City Council, said this week, such a move would today be “unthinkable”, for Merchant City, a popular residential, shopping and leisure area, has streets named after merchants – tobacco lords, and members of the “sugar aristocracy” – who profited on a substantial scale from the slave trade.

    As the historian Professor Michael Lynch observed a decade ago, “nowhere in Britain does the built environment act as a more overt reminder of the ’Horrible Traffik’ than the streets and buildings of Glasgow’s Merchant City”.

    This week the council became the first in the UK to launch a major academic study into historic bequests linked to transatlantic slavery.

    To be carried out by Dr Stephen Mullen, a noted academic historian who has studied the city’s links with the trade, it will leave no stone unturned.

    There will be four specific stages. A detailed audit will be carried out into historic bequests made to Glasgow Town Council, to see if there are any connections with transatlantic slavery. Statues, street-names, buildings and Lords Provost with any such connections will also be examined.

    Records relating to the City Chambers, a striking Victorian building completed in 1888, will be scrutinised to see what proportion of funds came from donors with connections to the slave trade.

    The fourth area will compile evidence to inform any future strategy for Glasgow itself. The council says that Dr Mullen’s year-long study will lead to a wide-ranging public consultation on its findings and on how Glasgow should move forward.

    The move comes a few months after Glasgow University said it would pay £20 million in reparative justice over the next 20 years to atone for its historical links to the transatlantic slave trade.

    A detailed report into the issue, co-authored by Dr Mullen and thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, found that though the university never owned enslaved people or traded in goods they produced, it “indirectly benefited from racial slavery” by anything between £16.7 million and £198 million in today’s money.

    One of the donors to the university was the celebrated inventor, James Watt, the son of a West India merchant and slave-trader, who supported him in his career. Watt also worked for his father as a mercantile agent in Glasgow during the 1750s. His statue has stood in George Square, within sight of the City Chambers, for some 200 years.

    Speaking on Thursday, Dr Mullen, who in 2009 wrote an influential book, “It Wisnae Us: The Truth About Glasgow and Slavery”, discussed the extent to which Glasgow’s links with the transatlantic slave trade are embedded in the modern city.

    He said: "Some street names are well known. We already know that Buchanan Street was named after a slave-trader. We already know that Glassford Street [in the Merchant City] was named after John Glassford, whose Shawfield Mansion was on the site.

    “We already know from the Glassford portrait in the People’s Palace that a young enslaved boy lived on that street. We already know that the Cunninghame Mansion [on Royal Exchange Square – the core of which is now the Gallery of Modern Art – was built by a tobacco lord and had successive associations with colonial merchants.”

    Dr Mullen added: “The exact nature of the slavery connections of these individuals will be confirmed and further research could elucidate hitherto unknown connections of individuals connected to other streets, buildings and/or statues”.

    He said his study would be the “first systematic attempt at a holistic study of these aspects of Glasgow’s built heritage”.

    In terms of statues, he said he currently was unaware of any dedicated to tobacco lords or members of the “sugar aristocracy”, though some examples might yet arise. For the time being, he did not believe that Glasgow has the same celebration of slave-traders as does Bristol, with Edward Colston.

    Dr Mullen noted that cities such as Bristol, London and Liverpool have already renamed bridges and international museums, or have erected additional plaques, to recognise the presence of slave-owners and enslaved people in certain sites.

    “Cities in the USA, such as Philadelphia,” he added, “have also developed strategies to address the unacknowledged slavery past of prominent figures such as George Washington. These strategies will be taken into consideration.”

    Ms Aitken, the council leader, acknowledged that the authority would face criticism, from ancestors of those “deeply affected” by the slave trade, or from others accusing it of “needless self-flagellation or of dredging up aspects of our past that we can’t change, in the cause of political correctness.”

    But asking Dr Mullen to study the city’s troubling historical links was the right thing to do, she added. Pointing out that slavery fortunes continued after the system was abolished in the West Indies in 1834, she said, “I believe that as a city we now have to know the reach of that slave-economy wealth. We need to know how to properly address our past, and we need to know to allow Glasgow to move forward from its past”.

    The announcement received an enthusiastic welcome from Sir Geoff Palmer, Professor Emeritus in the School of Life Sciences at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University and a noted human rights activist. “We cannot change the past - that is impossible - but what we can change are the consequences of the past”, he said.

    Ms Aitken told The Herald that there would be “no more ‘Merchant Cities’, no more things being named after people like John Glassford”.

    She added that discussions were taking place as to whether a line could now be drawn under the name of Buchanan.

    This could affect the huge Barclays Bank development in the Tradeston district. “The developers are calling it Buchanan Wharf. I’m not able to say anything specific about that but what I can say is that these are conversations that we are having, and I think there are open ears and open minds to this conversation”.

    She believes there is a lingering sense of “discomfort” in Glasgow around the legacy of slavery.

    “We should be deeply uncomfortable about what happened, and about Glasgow’s role was.

    “But we need Glaswegians, and future generations of them, to have a sense of comfort in confronting it - comfort in understanding that this is something we cannot ignore. We cannot just say, ‘It was a long time ago’.

    “We want them to have comfort in the knowledge that we’re doing the right thing by not only uncovering as many of the facts as we can establish now, but most of all in understanding what the impact is now”.

    She added: “There will be a lot of Glaswegians who will have no problem in understanding that when you look at what is happening to African Americans in terms of the Black Lives Matter campaign, and the dreadful things that they see … We have no difficulty in intellectually making the connection with slavery, and what was done to African Americans, and what they have suffered in the years since, and seeing that this is part of a continuum of racism".

    She added: “What the concrete outcomes will be of this new study are open to question. Maybe by this time next year, by the time of Black History Month, we will be getting closer to answering that question.

    “Stephen’s work will be almost completed and we will have been having those conversations with the city, and we may have answers around maybe changing some street names, or maybe elucidating some street names rather than changing them.” ‘Elucidating’ could mean displaying supplementary historical background information.

    Ms Aitken accepted that there was a “difference of opinion in those things’ and said her own view leans more towards elucidation than to changing street names.

    “Most importantly, those people who are still living with this legacy [of slavery] need to tell us what is the best thing for them”.

    She said she “genuinely doesn’t know” whether the council will consider making any sort of reparations. Reparations did not always have to be strictly financial.They could take the form of the council embedding what it learns from Dr Mullen’s work in the curriculum - “making sure that ignorance stops with this generation”.

    Reparation could also mean “investing in the people who continue to live with that legacy and addressing that legacy”.

    More immediately, the Glasgow Life organisation will appoint a curator who will develop a strategy for the interpretation of slavery and empire in Glasgow Museums. A display on the legacies of empire, race and globalisation will take place in the City Chambers.

    “It’s not about having an exhibition here and an exhibition there,” Ms Aitken said. “It’s about having on display, right the way through everything, a consciousness of that legacy and that history, and that that it is reflected in the language that we use”.

    https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/18026659.glasgow-launches-detailed-study-historical-links-transatlantic-slavery/?ref=twtrec
    #histoire #esclavage #Glasgow #toponymie #toponymie_politique #architecture #James_Watt #université #Buchanan_Street #Buchanan #Glassford_Street #John_Glassford #Shawfield_Mansion #Cunninghame_Mansion #esclavagistes #villes #géographie_urbaine #urban_matter #héritage #mémoire #statues #noms_de_rue #économie #Barclays_Bank #Buchanan_Wharf

    ping @reka

  • Uber Drivers in four UK cities to protest ahead of company’s IPO · IWGB
    https://iwgb.org.uk/post/5cd28b1260b6f/uber-drivers-in-four-uk

    8 May 2019 - Uber drivers in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow to log off app and protest outside Uber offices in each city
    Drivers condemn Uber for large payouts to founder, venture capitalists and executives despite failure to resolve pay issues

    Drivers call on public to not cross “digital picket line” on 8 May
    8 May: Hundreds of Uber drivers will log off the app and stage protests in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow today, as part of an international day of action taking place in dozens of cities around the world ahead of the company’s IPO.

    UK drivers are expected to log off the app between 7am and 4pm and the United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), is calling for drivers to protest outside of Uber’s offices in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow.

    The IWGB’s UPHD branch is asking the public to not cross the digital picket line by using the app to book Uber services during these times. Thousands of other drivers are expected to take action around the world, from the United States to Brazil, as part of an international day of action.

    Drivers are protesting against the IPO, which will value the company at tens of billions of dollars and lead to massive payouts for investors, while driver pay continues to be cut.

    Despite the expected massive payout for a few at the top, Uber’s business model is unsustainable in its dependence upon large scale worker exploitation. Since 2016, successive judgements from the UK’s Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal have all said Uber drivers are being unlawfully denied basic worker rights, such as the minimum wage and holiday pay. The IWGB is expected to face Uber at the Supreme Court later this year.

    Uber’s own prospectus recently filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission admits that being forced to respect worker rights and pay VAT as a result of the IWGB’s legal challenge would be a material risk to its business model. It also says that driver pay and job satisfaction will fall as Uber seeks to cut costs to become profitable.

    Analysis by UPHD shows that Uber drivers currently earn on average £5 per hour and work as much as 30 hours per week before breaking even.

    The drivers are demanding:

    Fares be increased to £2 per mile

    Commissions paid by drivers to Uber be reduced from 25% to 15%

    An end to unfair dismissals*

    Uber to respect the rulings of the Employment Tribunal, The Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal confirming ’worker’ status for drivers

    IWGB UPHD branch secretary Yaseen Aslam said: “Since Uber arrived to the UK in 2012, it has progressively driven down pay and conditions in the minicab sector to the point where many drivers are now being pushed to work over 60 hours a week just to get by. Now, a handful of investors are expected to get filthy rich off the back of the exploitation of these drivers on poverty wages. We are protesting today demanding that the company pay drivers a decent wage and that government authorities tackle Uber’s chronic unlawful behaviour.”

    IWGB UPHD branch chair James Farrar said: “Uber’s flotation is shaping up to be an unprecedented international orgy of greed as investors cash in on one of the most abusive business models ever to emerge from Silicon Valley. It is the drivers who have created this extraordinary wealth but they continue to be denied even the most basic workplace rights. We call on the public not to cross the digital picket line on 8 May but to stand in solidarity with impoverished drivers across the world who have made Uber so successful.”

    The protests are expected to take place at:

    London 1pm - Uber UK Head Office,1 Aldgate Tower, 2 Leman St, London E1 8FA

    Birmingham 1pm -100 Broad St, Birmingham B15 1AE

    Nottingham 1pm - King Edward Court Unit C, Nottingham NG1 1EL

    Glasgow 2pm - 69 Buchanan St, Glasgow G1 3HL

    #Uber #Streik #London #Birmingham #Nottingham #Glasgow

  • ’Heartbreaking’: fire guts Glasgow School of Art for second time
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jun/16/firefighters-tackle-blaze-at-glasgow-school-of-art

    The Glasgow School of Art has been devastated by a huge fire, only four years after parts of the building were destroyed by a smaller blaze.
    Flames spread through Glasgow School of Art in Scotland – in pictures


    More than 120 firefighters and 20 appliances were called to tackle the blaze, which began at about 11.15pm on Friday and spread to a neighbouring music venue, the O2 ABC.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=5nZBi_1tOEo

    The grade-A listed building appears to have been gutted by the fire and had its roof and upper floors destroyed. Firefighters were unable to enter the building because of fears its walls might collapse.

    Residents said the heat was so intense it could be felt several streets away, with chunks of blazing timber and debris raining down on neighbouring streets. Police evacuated 27 people from nearby properties as a precaution, but there were no reported casualties.

    #art #Charles-Rennie-Mackintosh #Arts-and-Crafts #Art-Nouveau #Glasgow #Ecosse

  • Les « #shrinking_cities » anglo-américaines, un laboratoire du #renouveau_urbain ?

    #Pittsburgh a cessé de perdre des habitants, comme d’autres villes en déclin telles #Glasgow. Fabien Jeannier a montré, dans une récente mise à jour de son article de 2008 consacré à la ville écossaise, que celle-ci avait recommencé à gagner des habitants depuis le recensement de 2011. Mais il faut préciser qu’à Glasgow comme à Pittsburgh, le timide retournement démographique est loin de compenser plusieurs décennies de #déclin.

    Le « shrinkage », ou #rétrécissement_urbain, se traduit par une perte d’habitants qui accompagne souvent la #désindustrialisation d’une ville lorsque son économie était basée sur un cycle industriel en déclin. Pour autant, la superficie totale de la ville ne diminue pas, au contraire : à Baltimore par exemple, la ville continue de s’étaler tout en perdant des habitants. (Voir notre brève : Baltimore, une "shrinking city" qui s’étale (septembre 2016).

    La conséquence de cette situation est la multiplication des #vacants : ces #friches_urbaines qui entraînent certains quartiers dans un cercle vicieux : les maisons abandonnées font baisser la valeur et la demande des maisons habitées, les habitants restant ne parviennent pas à vendre et finissent eux aussi par abandonner leur maison. Voir l’article de Florance Nussbaum : « Quartiers fantômes et propriétaires invisibles. Les propriétés abandonnées, symptômes de la crise des villes américaines », 2015.


    http://geoconfluences.ens-lyon.fr/actualites/veille/villes-retrecissantes-renouveau
    #urban_matter #villes #démographie #géographie_urbaine #étalement_urbain #USA #Angleterre #Etats-Unis #UK
    via @franz42

  • Scotland Deals Setback to Immigration Detention in Brexit Britain

    A Scottish local council rejected U.K. government plans to build an immigrant detention facility at Glasgow airport, giving some hope to anti-detention campaigners. Liam O’Hare reports on the implications for U.K. immigration policy in the wake of the #Brexit vote.

    https://newsdeeply.imgix.net/20161122120626/DSC_0065.jpg?w=640&fit=max&q=60&dpr=2
    https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/articles/2016/11/22/scotland-deals-setback-to-immigration-detention-in-brexit-britain
    #Ecosse #Glasgow #aéroport #résistance #détention_administrative #rétention #asile #migrations #réfugiés

  • #glasgow
    http://terrainsdeluttes.ouvaton.org/?p=4688

    Glasgow est souvent présentée comme une ville « rouge », symbole par excellence de la résistance ouvrière. Dans cet article (initialement paru dans le n°31 de la revue Savoir / Agir), Keith Dixon analyse comment cet héritage des luttes passées est peu à peu capté et mis au service des représentants actuels …

    #Nos_enquêtes #S'organiser #mouvement_ouvrier #nationalisme_écossais #savoir-agir

  • Glasgow contre Glasgow, un film photographique, par Julien Brygo
    http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/carnet/2014-05-22-Glasgow-contre-Glasgow
    http://vimeo.com/94640433

    « En août 2008, l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) a publié une enquête révélant que la différence d’espérance de vie entre un enfant né dans un quartier riche de Glasgow – au sud et à l’ouest – et un autre mis au monde dans un quartier pauvre de la même ville – à l’est – atteignait vingt-huit ans », écrivions-nous en 2010 dans « Vivre riche dans une ville de pauvres », une enquête inspirée par cette effrayante statistique. Le rapport de l’OMS aurait pu provoquer un séisme social ; il n’a suscité qu’un soupir las et un clapotis de bonnes intentions philanthropiques.

    L’’article : http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2010/08/BRYGO/19565
    Le rapport : http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2009/9789242563702_fre.pdf

    Version anglaise : http://mondediplo.com/blogs/glasgow-versus-glasgow-a-photographic-film

  • Row over ‘#Go_Home’ messages for asylum seekers

    The #UK government has been accused of running an “insidious, cynical and racist” poster campaign in its Glasgow immigration office in an attempt to encourage refugees and asylum seekers to go home.

    Is life here hard? Going home is simple!

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/row-over-go-home-messages-for-asylum-seekers-1-3066915

    #migration #poster #campagne #affiche #Glasgow #réfugiés #asile

    • @intempestive : oui, sur ce post comme sur certains autres (v. par exemple celui sur Bremgarten ou celui sur l’Australie) j’ai mis à jour constamment... cela fait beaucoup de notifications, sorry, mais bon... cela reste dans les archives ainsi ! En tout cas, là tu as tout sur un post (pour ce qui concerne le van en tout cas —> à voir si il y a encore beaucoup de mises à jours pour ce poster de Glasgow !)
       ;o

    • Mapping Immigration Controversy
      A research project mapping the unfolding controversy of Home Office immigration campaigns

      What have we found so far?

      How are the messages of government campaigns understood by residents in targeted areas?

      We found a range of responses, from people who had uncertain migrant status, who were settled migrants with legal right to remain, who were ethnic minority and white British citizens. All of the responses were emotionally charged, most notably with anger and fear – both from people who were angered and scared by the Home Office campaigns, and people who were worried about migration. Some people who had not heard about the publicity before we asked their opinions found it unbelievable that it was a government campaign – several thought the ‘Go Home’ van had been produced by groups such as the English Defence League or the UK Independence Party, and noted how the language echoed slogans of violent racists in the 1970s. In Scotland, we frequently heard the Home Office tactics being rejected as a Westminster imposition, not suited to Scotland, and used to support arguments for Scottish independence. The vast majority of people we spoke to in the focus groups thought that the Home Office publicity was a political stunt rather than an effective policy – whatever their political stance on immigration.

      http://mappingimmigrationcontroversy.com/findings

  • DJ Q - « We Are One » (Filter), 1997 (Glasgow)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD1WJP9PoI0

    From the days when house was built we have been here
    To the frontiers of the music world we came
    Pushing back the boundaries we have sought to make you dance, we are your servants which we ever will remain
    We are the soldiers of the underground, protectors of the faith
    That’s why it is one that never can be tamed
    We do not seek your adoration, your respect is all we seek
    For that respect will help the movement to sustain
    And though our names and faces change in time, our music will endure
    And a simple task shall always be the same
    That until the world has ended, ’til the walls come crashing down
    The underground religion we will maintain.

    #Tek #DjQ #Glasgow