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.
Britain First members are filming people, including children, without their permission and then uploading it to their website where it can be copied and sent on. The location and the people living in the hotel can be easily identified and so they are being placed at risk on every level.
Britain First is using the film to engender hatred. The term ‘hate crime’ describes a range of criminal behaviours where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or demonstrates hostility towards the victim’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
• Race appears to be an issue – they ask people ‘are you from Eritrea’ etc etc
• Hostility is evident in the tone of voice
• Questions put to the residents and the words used to the camera are intended to create hostility in those watching towards these people
Status Now Network unconditionally welcomes people to the UK. The democratic forces of law and order must be used immediately to:
– Protect these people who are lawfully seeking asylum
– Stop and prosecute the actions of those Britain First members: they are threatening the safety of vulnerable people living in hotels, instilling fear, and stirring up hatred that seeks to promote their fascist ideology.
Status Now Network also welcomes any opportunity to demonstrate our solidarity with local people and organisations across the UK who want to show the people in the hotels that they are not alone. Please let us know about any such socially distanced mobilisations so that we can share your information and act in solidarity with you. Thank you.
29.8.2020: Britain First on their website now has films showing intrusion into hotels in Warrington, Newcastle , Brent Cross, Essex, Bromsgrove. These hotels are run by Brittania Hotel, and Holiday Inn.
This is our original press release: 25th August 2020: FAR RIGHT ‘BRITAIN FIRST’ MEMBERS FILM AND INTIMIDATE VULNERABLE ASYLUM SEEKERS INSIDE THEIR ACCOMMODATION
Campaigners from the Status Now Network have written to the Home Office and to asylum accommodation providers SERCO to protest about the way members of the far right nationalist group ‘Britain First’ were apparently allowed to invade a hotel in Birmingham which houses people seeking asylum.
People purporting to be members of the group can be seen on their own website filming, harassing and intimidating vulnerable people who are being housed in the Bromsgrove Hotel and Spa, near Birmingham Airport, while they wait for their asylum claims to be processed.
In the film, a group of men and a woman enter the hotel and rap on the doors of several rooms demanding that the occupants tell them which country they are from and whether they are paying for their rooms. Most of the occupants seem completely bemused and to have no idea who the group are or what their aggressive questioning means. Yet the ‘Britain First’ members continue to film, making no attempt to disguise the occupants’ identities.
The group can also be seen on the film pursuing terrified occupants who are trying to get away from them. Members of the far right group, which espouses fascist ideology, are shown striding through the hotel lobby and other general areas, shouting questions and making hostile declarations. No members of staff can be seen in the hotel.
Many people seeking asylum – particularly people who have recently arrived in the UK – are currently being housed in hotels by SERCO and other providers which have the contracts for asylum housing. The current shortage of asylum housing in the UK has been exacerbated by the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. Status Now has also written to other asylum housing providers about their duty of care.
It is the responsibility of the Home Office and their accommodation providers in the UK to house people who are legally seeking asylum and ensure they are safe. In this particular case, a far right group appears to have trespassed on hotel property, which is the home of a number of asylum seekers, and then harassed and intimidated them. There are also public health questions about why this group of people were allowed to enter the hotel especially now that Birmingham is introducing tighter Coronavirus restrictions from tomorrow (August 26th) because of a spike in infections.
A woman who is seeking asylum and living in a hostel in the Midlands said she had seen many similar videos on the Internet and she feared for the safety of people living in hotels and hostels.
“This one is by far the most humiliating and degrading….my heart is filled with so much sadness and fear as to what might happen if the Home Office continues to house people in hotels.”
Claudia Webbe, MP for Leicester East who has sponsored an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling for Status Now for All, said:
“The attacks on asylum seekers at the Bromsgrove Hotel are disgraceful, and I stand in full solidarity with all those who are exercising their legal right to claim asylum.
“Britain First and other hate groups represent the very worst of our country. They must be not be given any platform to legitimise their vile anti-migrant discourse.
“It is ludicrous to suggest that a small number of vulnerable migrants pose a threat to our security, economy or social life. Asylum seekers do not arrive in the UK to leech off the state – Asylum Support Allowance is a mere £37.75 per week. It is also far from the case that the UK is overwhelmed with asylum seekers, with Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece and France registering far more asylum applicants.
“The right for different communities and cultures to live side by side has been fought for by generations of struggle. It is up to all of us today who oppose racism to continue this fight against all forms of hatred and bigotry.”
Status Now Network’s co chair Rogelio Braga spoke at a national protest outside the Home Office tonight, Tuesday August 25th. Status Now also had a speaker at a vigil in Manchester today to honour the man who died in a hotel which is housing people seeking asylum.
For more information, please contact: 07758386208 or 07776264646
Status Now Network has written to the three Asylum Accommodation and Support Services Contractors as follows:
We are writing to ask what action your organization is taking to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of people seeking asylum and living in accommodation which you are contracted by the Home Office to provide, and particularly in regard to those who are housed in hotels during these exceptional times of the pandemic.
We seek assurances on behalf of those within our network who have experience of being in the asylum system that you are acting urgently to ensure that you are responsibly exercising your duty of care on behalf of the Home Office, so that people are protected in their homes from the attentions of others who are attempting to whip up ill-feeling about people seeking asylum in UK.
The Status Now Network is a network of organisations and individuals, guided by people who are undocumented or going through the legal processes in respect of the right to remain in UK, and we are calling for all those without settled status to be given Leave to Remain now. The current Covid-19 pandemic is highlighting that it is not safe for the individuals concerned, or for the general population when there are people who are denied, or who live in fear of accessing health and other support services.
We write to you now as it has come to our attention that a group of members of Britain First walked into a hotel in Bromsgrove which is being used to house people in the asylum system, filming themselves and those they met inside. In the video there are no hotel or security staff in evidence as this group of people walked down corridors whilst banging on the doors of the residents. With no introduction and certainly no courtesy, they threw questions at those who open their doors – sensitive and personal questions asked in a demanding way, and then they walked on making comments to the camera and each other as they went. We understand that the video they made, which is on their website, has been viewed many times, and we expect that they will attempt to use these situations and possibly make more such videos to whip up ill-feeling against these members of our community.
You will be aware that people who are newly arrived in UK seeking asylum are especially vulnerable for many reasons. Members of Britain First should never have been allowed inside the hotel to accost these people as happened in the video. An investigation into the circumstances that allowed it to take place is necessary, and all three accommodation providers in UK need to ensure that nothing like this happens again.
We await your response.
Please feel free to use the text above to write to the AASC contractor in your area:
SERCO: Rupert Soames – CEO and David Dacquino – Chair. Email: email@example.com
Clearsprings Ready Homes: Steven Lakey, Randle Slatter, James Vyvyan-Robinson – Directors. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mears Group: David J. Miles – CEO and Keiran Murphy – Chair. Email: email@example.com
28.8.2020: We have also written to the CEO Andy Langsam, and CFO Robert Ferrari of Brittania Hotels
Information about who is running the asylum accommodation contracts in the UK are laid out here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-asylum-accommodation-contracts-awarded
“The new Asylum Accommodation and Support Services Contracts (AASC), which were designed following engagement with local authorities, potential providers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), have been awarded today, following an open and fair procurement exercise.
“The new contracts offer a range of improvements, with a particular focus on assisting individuals through the asylum system. They will ensure that vulnerable asylum seekers have access to the support they need and set clear requirements on the standard and condition of accommodation.
“Under the new contracts, providers will be required to have proactive maintenance plans, to make sure that they regularly inspect properties and report back to the Home Office on the findings of these inspections. When issues are identified, providers will be expected to resolve them within set timescales.
“The Home Office formally awarded contracts to the following providers:
- Midlands and East of England: Serco
- North East, Yorkshire and Humberside: Mears Group
- North West: Serco
- Northern Ireland: Mears Group
- Scotland: Mears Group
- South: Clearsprings Ready Homes
- Wales: Clearsprings Ready Homes”
28.8.2020 Guardian: Far-right activists filmed hassling asylum seekers in hotels
One video shows members of Britain First entering hotel and banging on bedroom doors
Anger is mounting over a series of videos posted by far-right organisations in which activists enter hotels where asylum seekers are being held, knock on their doors to interrogate them and accuse them of wasting taxpayers’ money.
A video by Britain First, circulated widely on social media, shows a group of far-right activists entering a hotel in Bromsgrove, near Birmingham, and banging on bedroom doors, demanding to know what country the asylum seekers are from.
The Britain First members say in the video they have entered legally and that the hotel is housing illegal immigrants. [Status Now note: it is not illegal to seek asylum]
The asylum seekers appear not to understand who the far-right activists are. Most who are interrogated answer, perhaps believing the Britain First activists to be officials. Many of the asylum seekers could be at risk if their faces are shown on camera.
Campaigners from the group Status Now have raised concerns about the video and have complained to the Home Office and the accommodation provider Serco about the incident. The Guardian has contacted Serco for comment.
Claudia Webbe, the MP for Leicester East, condemned the incident. “The attacks on asylum seekers at this hotel are disgraceful and I stand in full solidarity with all those who are exercising their legal right to claim asylum,” she said. “Britain First and other hate groups represent the very worst of our country. They must not be given any platform to legitimise their vile anti-migrant discourse.” … Read More https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/28/far-right-activists-filmed-hassling-asylum-seekers-in-hotels
See also: Bromsgrove Advertiser: Home Office responds to Nigel Farage’s video on Bromsgrove asylum seekers
THE housing of asylum seekers in a Bromsgrove hotel remains a ‘temporary’ measure, government chiefs insist – in response to an incendiary visit to the town by prominent politician Nigel Farage.