Asylum seekers needs not being met by failing system
A year after the Park Inn attack, one in three asylum seekers accommodated for long periods in hotels report that their mental health has deteriorated.
Positive Action in Housing (PAIH) carried out a survey of hotel asylum seekers in Glasgow. It analysed the responses of 230 asylum seekers living under the Home Office’s Mears accommodation contract in hotels between August 2020 and June 2021.
The charity found that one in three asylum seekers (83) felt that their mental health has deteriorated as a result of long periods spent in hotels provided by Mears Housing Group. One in three said they were suffering depression or PTSD, taking medication for sleep or anxiety, or had suicidal thoughts.
It comes as protesters gathered in Glasgow over the weekend to mark the incident.
Robina Qureshi, PAIH director, said: “The situation is one of misery and desperation and those in authority appear to be taking no heed of their suffering.
“People want their Home Office cases settled so they can finally leave the oppressive contract system that governs their lives, seek work or study, contribute to society and stand on their own resources.”
On 26 June 2020, 28-year-old Badreddin Abadlla Adam attacked a police officer, hotel staff and fellow asylum seekers after what friends have described as a serious deterioration in his mental health.
A month before that, a Syrian asylum seeker, Adnan Walid Elbi, also 28, was found dead in an apparent suicide at another city centre guest house.
A year on, at least 170 people remain in hotel accommodation that Mears’ chief operating officer, John Taylor, acknowledged was “challenging” last June. There are also concerns about mothers and babies being moved into cramped bedsit accommodation.
In PAIH’s survey, reasons given for deteriorating mental health were a sense of hopelessness, loss of control over their own lives, in ability to cook for themselves, fears for their families they had left behind who were living in extreme poverty or danger in their countries of origin while they waited for Home Office decisions on their cases.
A significant number of people stated that they had not seen a doctor, dentist or optician.
Several people referred to the hotels as “prisons”, that they could not get privacy, cook or clean, that there was restrictions on food or bottled water. Still other stated that they wanted to work but were forced to depend on the Home Office.
Some 156 hotel asylum seekers (68%) reported that they do not receive any money at all for living expenses. Just over a quarter of people (62) said they had received their hotel subsistence payment of £8 a week.
Those who eventually received it despite being entitled to it for months, were told by Migrant Help that the Home Office would not be paying the backdated payment and that this would be “assessed” once they were dispersed to accommodation.