A sizeable crowd protested outside Glasgow City Chambers today (Thursday 17 May) at the eviction of asylum seekers from their homes in the city, leaving them to sleep on the streets.
Councillors from all parties spoke out, just before they attended the first full Council meeting of the new administration.
One of at least six people left destitute is Ako from Kurdistan. He explained how he returned to his accommodation provided by Ypeople, to find the lock had been changed without any warning. ‘This was a most stressful and dangerous situation for me,’ said the human rights activist and journalist. ‘I can never forget this. It has destroyed me. It is important to press the system and the government because this should not happen again.’ He says he was lucky and got to sleep in a church hall which is being used as a temporary night shelter for destitute asylum seekers.
A few days later, after long negotiations with Ypeople, he was given a key to the new lock and allowed back into the flat where all his possessions were. Others are not so lucky and still wait for their personal things to be returned to them.
Margaret Wood of the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees said: ‘Some of the most vulnerable should be eligible for help from the Social Work Department. It is indecent this is happening at all,’ she said. ‘We will continue to fight.’
A massive demonstration had been planned for Saturday 9 June but will be postponed as that is the day the Olympic torch is due to go through Glasgow. Said Margaret: ‘That is not a disaster. It gives us time to build and have a nationwide demonstration.’ She added: ‘We should be asking the serious question – is this the kind of society we want in Scotland? Do we want to provide a safe haven for people who have had to flee terrible treatment in their own country or do we want them to be treated like rubbish and dumped on the street? This has been a most disgraceful episode but we will fight on alongside the trade unions and the inspiring destitute asylum seekers themselves. We have to win for this society will not be worth living in until we do.’
There is still a chance to be one of the people to carry the Olympic Flame on its 8000 mile journey across the UK next year.
At Braehead Shopping Centre today (Thursday 26 September) Samsung will have the London 2012 Olympic Torch on display to encourage people to nominate someone they feel has gone ‘the extra mile’ and is worthy of carrying the Olympic Flame on a part of its epic journey to the Olympic Stadium in London.
The Torch relay will take 70 days to cover the UK and will pass through Glasgow.
One person who has been nominated already is 28-year-old Jonathan Mackie from Glasgow. He holds six Gold and a Silver medal from the World Special Olympic Summer Games. Said his Mum Anne, ‘Despite the challenges Jonathan faces because he suffers from microcephaly, he has never let this get in the way of his dreams. He is a dedicated gymnast training four times a week and coaches young children in the sport.’
Jonathan has just returned from Athens with his latest medals. He also went to Delhi with the City of Glasgow to bring home the Commonwealth flag for the Commonwealth Games in 2014. He said: ‘The Olympic Games in London next year will be a huge event and hopefully, will inspire more young people into sport like gymnastics – which have been such a great focus for me all my life. To be part of those Games and to say I was there, would be the icing on the cake.’
Others who feel like this about the Olympic Games next year should get to Braehead fast as nominations must close on Friday this week – 30 September. Or nominate your local unsung hero by visiting the website: samsung.com/london2012 Alternatively, this can be done in local Vodafone stores where the Samsung Olympic Torch Relay nominations zones are available.