At least three asylum seekers in Glasgow have been locked out of their accommodation by Ypeople without warning. Each was left in the clothes he was standing in but with all his worldly goods behind the unyielding door.
The Christian charity, Ypeople, has lost the accommodation contract to house asylum seekers in Glasgow. The UK Borders Agency (UKBA) has given the £175 million contract to SERCO Group plc, instead, a British registered private service company which runs detention centres around the world.
Said Jeremiah from Zimbabwe whose case is in the process of being presented for a judicial review : ‘When I couldn’t open the door on Monday morning, I went to my lawyer. He told me to speak to the Home Office. They said I had to move everything out by tonight (Monday 14 May). I’ve lived here for four years and said that was impossible, they told me to have everything moved by 2pm on Tuesday. This makes no sense and is very stressful. They should at least give me some time to remove my things.’
Ako, an asylum seeker from Kurdistan where he is a human rights activist and a journalist, encountered a similar situation but was allowed back into his flat after two nights sleeping at a temporary night shelter in the city’s West End. He said: ‘I can’t sleep and feel bad.’ He was subsequently given a key to the new lock and is now back in his original flat after he and his friends put pressure on Ypeople.
Mohamed from the Sudan has been without support for more than one year. His Cranhill flat’s lock was changed without notice last week. He said: ‘When I went to the Ypeople’s office they told me to come back the next day if I wanted my clothes. I stayed with a friend that night and am still waiting on my clothes being returned to me.’
A charity registered in Scotland, Ypeople’s mission is: ‘to provide support to vulnerable groups and individuals including the homeless, refugees, asylum seekers and young people to enable them to adapt to change and improve their quality of life.’
The chief executive, Joe Connolly, was asked for a statement on the lockout situation but his office referred this website’s enquiry to public relations company the Big Partnership and a response was still awaited some hours after the initial enquiry and subsequent reminders.
The charity’s last annual report states that it looked after 2200 ‘service users’ in 1150 properties and homes across the city. ‘We are committed to providing high quality services,’ is part of Ypeople’s mission along with the commitment to ‘recognise the right of individuals and treat them with respect.’
At Ypeople’s head office in Govan’s industrial estate at Moorpark, their certificates are on display from the Home Office as a ‘recognised Supplier 2011′ and for Investors in People and as a member of the Glasgow Social Care Providers’ Forum as well as Quality Scotland membership.
Jock Morris, Chairman of the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees said: ‘We know of at least four people over the weekend who have had the locks changed in their homes, without warning. We met Joe Connolly and Glasgow’s Social Work chiefs two weeks ago and were assured no locks would be changed without people being told well in advance and that the Social Work department would ‘bend over backwards’ to help anyone affected – so this behaviour is irresponsible. These people have not been honest with us.’
On Monday, Unity, a group supportive of asylum seekers, held a demonstration with the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees and others outside Brand Street where the UK BA offices are located in Govan. Later they moved to Ypeople’s offices a few streets away and set up their demonstration there.
Said a Unity spokesman: ‘Joe Connelly agreed to send a letter out to people explaining the processes and giving dates of when things will be taking place. No letter has been received by Mohamed, nor any of the individuals we’ve been in touch with. Once again, Y-People have failed to deal with vulnerable asylum seekers in a fair and honest manner. By using dirty tricks and giving unclear messages, they have created fear among the asylum seeking community. Some individuals, terrified by the threat of eviction, have gone into hiding,’ claimed the spokesman. He added that around 100 asylum seekers who have had their initial asylum claim refused but are unable or unwilling to return to their home lands, are still in Glasgow. ‘Many of these people are victim of administrative errors and poor decision making on the part of UKBA, yet are now facing imminent homelessness.
‘We’re calling on everyone concerned about this situation, to write to Y-People, expressing their concerns at their dishonest practices and asking them to adhere to due process,’ he said.
See their website for further information and contact details: www.unitycentreglasgow.org or email:email@example.com
Before protesting outside the Ypeople’s offices in Govan, the campaigners had stood in solidarity outside the UKBA offices nearby in Brand Street, Govan to support Angeline Mwafulirqa from Malawi as she signed in. She and her three children had been detained the previous time they signed in. They were taken to a detention centre in England and but, for the loud resistance of Angeline as she was being forced to board a plane back to Africa, the family would have been deported.
Said Angeline: ‘It is not safe for me to go back. I just screamed and made a lot of noise so that the airline – Kenya Airways – knew I would be boarding the plane against my will. I have been in the UK for six years. Two years ago I applied for asylum as I split up from my husband who is also from Malawi. My case for asylum has been refused but it is unsafe for me to go back to Malawi. Local custom there would require my children to be taken by their Father’s family.’
The people of Mansewood and Hillpark are not the only communities facing cuts in bus services. First Glasgow has stated the following five services will be withdrawn:
Route 2 – Toryglen and Croftfoot
Route 25 – Govan and Silverburn
Route 29 – Manswood, Hillpark and Shawlands
Route 91 – Partick and Clydebank
Route 92 – restricted to operate between Partick Bus Station and Gartnavel Hospital only.
But Glasgow City Council has been told of others to be withdrawn:
Route 11 – Bearsden Road/Switchback – diverted from Glasgow Road, Clydebank to Barns Street/East Barns Street.
Route 42 – Drumchapel and City Centre via Garscadden, Scotstoun, Partick and Charing Cross – evening operation to be withdrawn.
Route 119 – Baljaffray and Castlemains Estate
Route 213A – Bargeddie to Buchanan Bus Station via Baillieston, Edinburgh Road, Cranhill and Alexandra Parade – Sunday day service to be withdrawn.
In addition, many established routes will have major timetable changes.
by Lynsay Keough, photo by Stuart Maxwell
Gerard Kelly was laid to rest today, Friday 12 November, following a requiem mass attended by family and friends at St. Aloysius Church in Garnethill.
He took his final drive past the doors of the King’s Theatre in Bath Street this morning, instead of appearing as the Narrator in the Rocky Horror Show, as he had been billed to do this afternoon.
We know him as Gerard, but it was as Paul Kelly that he was born and brought up in the city’s Cranhill, 51 years ago, where his family ran a fish and chip shop. Kelly, as he was known to his friends, had spent 20 years in panto, most of it at the King’s. Indeed it was the theatre’s former manager Billy Differ, who had met him in that family chippy, who gave the eulogy at his funeral service at the church in Rose Street.
Billy paid tribute to his friend’s passion for life and generousity of spirit and reflected on his loss to the theatrical community in Glasgow. ‘We know how much panto meant to Kelly, we sadly wait to see how much Kelly meant to panto’.
Father O’Brien, who took the service, asked for prayers for those in the entertainment community, especially for those in panto, ‘in the hope that the joy will wipe away the tears’.
Crowds gathered outside the King’s following the service, with the flag above the theatre flying at half-mast and bill posters showing shows from the past featuring Kelly. A heartfelt final round of applause greeted the cortege as it slowed down outside the doors and Kelly took his final curtain call.