IRISS account of asylum seeker’s social work experience is sobering experience

thumbnail of refugee and asylum seeker good practice guide (webversion) finalIRISS have published an account of an asylum seeker’s social work experience in Glasgow – sobering reading!  

Sadly third sector organisations working with asylum seekers continue to  report such experiences. Hopefully this will be resolved with the long awaited publication of COSLA’s guide for local authorities faced with requests for support from asylum seekers who find themselves in the NRPF situation and have literally no income to support themselves or any dependants. UNISON have asked to meet with COSLA to discuss this prior to publication.

On the positive front the UK government have (in November 2018) ditched the secret agreement with Health heads that placed a compulsion on Health staff to share all data on asylum seekers with the Home Office. This had been strongly opposed  and was the subject of a judicial review in the High Court in London. It is  likely to be replaced with a protocol where the Home Office can request data on those facing deportation for serious criminal  offending or where this is necessary to protect the welfare of an individual.  Local authorities continue to share data which can be used to deport people  and UNISON and human rights organisations remain opposed to such practices.

The London Borough of Bexley have introduced a compulsory ‘consent’ form for NRPF victims who ask them for support. This requests DNA samples, photographs of the claimant and dependants, and detailed personal information. This is being resisted by organisations in the London area who support NRPF victims. Any attempt to introduce this elsewhere should be reported immediately by members to UNISON.

In July SERCO (who have a contract with the Home Office to house asylum seekers in Scotland) moved to evict over 300 asylum seekers in Glasgow whose claims had been refused even though a number were still in the appeal process. This resulted in a public outcry and after a week or so of uncertainty, a hunger strike, and public demonstrations, SERCO withdrew the threat after the matter was referred to Court. The outcome is awaited still.