20 October 2020: Risk assessing hotels and barracks housing displaced people in the UK: Statement from StatusNow4All
We note that the role of the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration is to help improve the efficiency, effectiveness and consistency of the Home Office’s border and immigration functions through unfettered, impartial and evidence-based inspection.
We note, in contrast, that the Home Office is attempting to side step this transparent system by hiring a private risk management company, Human Applications (https://ergonomics.org.uk/humanapplications) to provide a ‘rapid review of initial accommodation for single adult asylum seekers, including hotels and former military barracks, and provide assurance of compliance with public health guidelines to prevent the transmission of Covid 19.’ Hastily arranged with minimal, non-transparent and selective third sector involvement, the Home Office have stated that they do not intend to make this report public.
Living conditions have the potential to compromise the physical and psychological health of people. Those displaced people currently accommodated by the Home Office in hotels and barracks around the UK are not being offered thorough assessment, especially in relation to the safeguarding concerns that arise from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Home Office is failing to demonstrate either an appropriate duty of care, or any transparent process. Similarly, the meaningful exercise of duty of care cannot be realised until there is a comprehensive test- track- trace and quarantine system that enables EVERYONE to participate, with confidence, throughout the UK.
Alongside our call for StatusNow4All https://statusnow4all.org/about-status-now/ to enable everyone to share equal access to healthcare, housing and food, we call for the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration to conduct an immediate and independent inspection that ‘provides assurance of compliance with public health guidelines to prevent the transmission of Covid 19’.
18th September 2020 PRESS RELEASE: STATUS NOW 4 ALL BACKS PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATIONS CALLING FOR LEAVE TO REMAIN FOR UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS IN THE UK
A national Day of Action is being held this weekend to call for an end to the Government’s Hostile Environment policy and for Leave to Remain to be given to all undocumented migrants in the UK.
Regularise, one of Status Now Network’s signatories, is organising a peaceful demonstration for the rights of undocumented migrants on Saturday, 19th September. It will be held from 1pm-4pm outside 10 Downing Street to ensure the Prime Minister Boris Johnson hears our call for Status Now.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Johnson was compelled to respond to the child of Mercy Baguma, and the father of the child, after Mercy was found dead in a flat in Glasgow laying next to her distressed one year old son. Mercy had lost her Leave to Remain status (visa) and job, and was struggling to survive in the middle of a pandemic while she awaited a decision on her asylum application. Though Boris Johnson’s gesture to fast-track the resolution of the father of the child’s asylum case is in kind, it is too late for Mercy who died whilst in limbo and extreme poverty!
By implementing the proposal for the regularisation of undocumented migrants that he commissioned as Mayor of London more than a decade ago, this Prime Minister could prevent unecessary and sustained suffering for many, made worse by this pandemic. The UK government successfully ran a programme to resolve a backlog of 450,000 asylum cases (later extended to other people with insecure status) between 2007 to 2011, so why not take action now, in this time of crisis, to secure StatusNow4All?
2020 August 28: The Elected City Mayor of Leicester, Peter Soulsby has responded to Status Now Network’s approach to him to be aware that people seeking asylum were accosted by Britain First in a hotel in Bromsgrove, whilst in the care of Serco who housed them there. It is Serco’s practice to house people where they can temporarily as their current housing stock is full and under the terms of their contract they must accommodate new asylum seekers, so they are converting office blocks, but also using hotels. We suggested that Leicester Council needs to be aware that this behaviour by Britain First is attracting a lot of far right acclaim, and that it may happen in Leicester itself.
29.8.2020: The Status Now Network unconditionally condemns the actions of Members of Britain First, a British, Fascist political organisation formed in 2011 by former members of the British National Party. Britain First members have filmed people seeking asylum placed in hotels through the Government’s sub-contracted asylum system, and are now using their film, includes inflammatory words and phrases commentary, to ferment their anti-immigration stance.
Through its contract with The AASC providers – Serco, Clearsprings and Mears Group the Home Office has an inescapable duty of care towards these people seeking asylum. The AASC providers are subcontracting to, for example, Brittania Hotels and Holiday Inn but they retain responsibility for the care of the people in the hotels and they must immediately demonstrate that care.
21 August 2020: In a last minute U-turn, the UK Government has been pressured to extend the ban on evictions of renters that had been planned to end this coming Sunday, 23 August. This means that from September 20th onwards people who rent will no longer have any of the emergency protections, put in place by the UK Government when COVID-19 first emerged in the spring of this year, that banned evictions across England and Wales. Without this protection, the spectre of mass evictions and a further surge in homelessness looms.
Among the millions of people facing severe financial difficulty, hundreds of thousands of renters are reported to now face eviction threats and homelessness. In spite of temporary measures that were introduced to support some, systemic government failures that existed before COVID-19 are leaving people acutely vulnerable.
The fact that some of the 285 people (268 men, 17 women) deported to Eastern Europe by the British Government during the COVID-19 restrictions (April –June 2020) had spent criminal convictions – including a mother who had served a six month sentence and was separated from her 11 year old son – is a clear demonstration of the deep cynicism that is in line with both the UK Government’s indifference towards people with insecure immigration status, and their desire to doubly punish people who have fallen through the cracks of the legal system by stripping them off their right to remain.
The fact that this deportation process cost £1,105,931, involved 374 immigration officers, and did not offer a single test to any person being deported, is further proof of the Government’s preparedness to place marginalised people, alongside those employed to deport them, and everyone they subsequently come across when they land – at risk of infection.
This latest injustice, underlining as it does the fact that there is neither a rational public health approach towards the health and safety of the population as a whole or towards people with insecure status in particular, only reinforces the Status Now Network’s commitment to StatusNow4All.
The Status Now Network held a webinar event on Saturday 11th July 2020, 4pm to 6pm, to launch the national Status Now Network and the #statusnow4all campaign. There is a recording of the event below, and also videos that were shown at the event
At the end of March the Network called on the British Prime Minister and Irish Taoiseach to grant leave to remain, Status Now, to all undocumented, destitute and migrant people in the legal process in both the UK and Ireland, to ensure their and others’ safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. The open letter to the heads of states has received over 65 organisational signatories, the online petition has gained over 3,700 signatories and counting, and an EDM #658 (early day motion) calling for Leave to Remain has been put down in the UK Parliament.
This launch celebrated the newly-formed Status Now Network with cultural events, and included discussions from people with lived experience of being undocumented, MPs and some of our signatories, conversation and sharing of ideas.
We have an urgent request: the call for Status Now for All is being carried into Parliament in an Early Day Motion – EDM #658 as follows:
EDM #658 – LEAVE TO REMAIN STATUS
That this House notes that there are currently an unknown number of persons in the UK who are not citizens of the UK and who do not at present have leave to remain in this country, who lack any entitlement to support from the state and are therefore entirely without funds to feed, clothe and house themselves and their families and who are unable to comply with government guidance on self-isolation and social distancing; and considers it essential that the government takes immediate action to ensure that leave to remain in the United Kingdom is granted to all such persons who are within the UK but are not citizens, irrespective of their nationality or immigration status, so that they can access healthcare, food and housing to enable them to adhere to government advice on social distancing, and to ensure the health of themselves and their families as well as helping protect the health of all of us.