news from gcp
sTATEMENT ON Offshore Detention Announcement
We at Govan Community Project are absolutely horrified by the announcement of the UK Government’s decision to send those turning to the UK for safety and protection to Rwanda, as well as the set up of reception centres in the UK. It is clear that no lessons have been learned from previous models of institutionalised accommodation run by the State, including the impact on individuals’ wellbeing. There is absolutely no place in the 21st century for this sort of barbaric treatment of any human being. It is yet another example of the utter lack of compassion or human decency those in power in the UK have for those in a vulnerable position.
It is well documented that a huge majority of those risking their lives to cross the Channel to seek safety have legitimate claims for asylum. Nobody would put their lives or those of their children at risk on these perilous journeys if there were safety and protection available by another route.
Offshore processing centres will not address the reasons people make these dangerous journeys to ask the UK for protection and they will not stop traffickers from exploiting people. What it will undoubtedly do is cause more pain, suffering and trauma to those who have already experienced multiple life-endangering situations.
The Ukrainian refugee crisis has demonstrated unquestionably that the majority of the UK agrees we should be providing safety and protection to those fleeing war and persecution by welcoming them into our communities and supporting them to rebuild their lives, safe from harm. There is significant evidence from other countries that these offshore detention models expose individuals to further trauma, resulting in high levels of self harm, suicidal ideation and mental health issues, with many individuals facing further abuse and exploitation from people traffickers.
We stand alongside all of those who will be affected by this policy. Our colleagues in the sector and people in communities the length and breadth of the UK have consistently shared messages insisting that we do not wish to see a UK which would treat any individual so barbarically. We urge every MP and official in the current UK Government to halt this inhumane plan immediately and to spend the time, energy and money on designing and delivering an asylum system which offers individuals the opportunity to seek sanctuary through safe routes, coupled with a fair and human rights-based support system to provide a safety net which allows vulnerable individuals and families to prosper in our communities, rebuild their lives and contribute their strength, skills and knowledge to our society.
Barbaric policies such as these have no place in a 21st century UK and should not be how the UK Government wants others to see our nation.
Head of Charity quote:
The daily coverage of the Ukrainian crisis in the news has highlighted more than ever that the majority of people in the UK, and Scotland in particular, feel that welcoming and supporting refugees is the right and just thing to do. Individuals seeking asylum via dangerous routes are forced to make these ‘survival’ decisions considering the lack of safe routes open to them. The UK Government should be asking themselves if we were to find ourselves in a similar situation to Ukraine or any other countries where war and persecution prevail, would they not want their citizens fleeing for their lives to be offered safety and protection and treated with compassion, not herded like animals? Would they not want children to be protected, cared for, and educated?
I would urge everyone to contact their MPs now to demand a stop to this barbaric treatment of people fleeing danger and turning to our nation for protection and to instate policies that reflect the views of the majority of people in the UK, who demonstrate time and time again that refugees need and deserve our support and compassion.
Not In Our Name Joint Statement - 22 February 2022
GCP is a proud signatory of this statement released by Scottish Refugee Council, JustRight Scotland, and Rape Crisis Scotland. We stand proudly among the 60 other Scottish organisations who oppose the cruel and dangerous Nationality and Borders Bill. To read the statement and find out more, visit: https://bit.ly/3IchHGD
25 nOVEMBER VIGIL
On 25 November, GCP held a vigil to stand in solidarity with refugee communities around the world after the tragedy that occurred the previous day. Our community came together to pay respect to those who lost their lives in the Channel.
Statement on the events of 24 nOVEMBER 2021
The tragedy in the English Channel is the worst humanitarian disaster connected to Channel crossings in recent times. Those who died were taking the only choice open to them to seek safety. Behind these numbers are people, who have parents, children, friends and family who are mourning their loved ones.
This tragedy should never have happened would not have happened if there had been safe and legal routes to seek protection open to them. Our government should take responsibility for this. No one makes a choice to risk their life in the world's busiest shipping lane in a flimsy dinghy if there is another option.
There will be much speculation in the press, fuelled by the media and our UK Government, placing the blame on those fleeing for safety, when they should be looking at the role current policy played in this and engaging with our neighbours in Europe to find a better, safer way. Our Government have closed down safe routes to seek protection, such as family reunion and the Dubs Amendment, which leads to this ongoing, life-threatening situation where many people fleeing war or brutal dictatorships can only physically touch UK soil by putting their lives at risk to get here.
The time to change this inhumane system, which threatens human life, is long overdue. Our Government need to take action now, to value and preserve human life and honour the commitments our country made in the Refugee Convention to offer protection. The media also need to take a long, hard look at the way they report these tragedies and remember they are talking about human beings, lives being lost and families being devastated.
We all want to see an end to people smugglers profiteering from the lives of those desperate to find safety. The current system leaves no choice. It punishes refugees and is proven to have failed. It's not good enough to say that France needs to do more to stop people crossing. The best way to put smugglers out of business is to create safe routes. Allow families to reunite. Introduce humanitarian visas. Protect child refugees at risk of exploitation. Open the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme while there's still time.
We all hoped we would never see this day. We urge our government to immediately withdraw and rethink its plan to criminalise refugees through the Nationality and Borders Bill, and instead live up to its responsibilities to work with the global community towards a refugee policy that means this tragedy is never repeated and that the UK offers sanctuary to those who seek our protection - something which the majority of people in the UK feel is the right and humanitarian thing to do.
70th anniversary of the un refugee convention - a statement from Traci Kirkland, our head of charity
The UN Refugee Convention placed the rights of refugees under international law. All of the 149 countries who signed up made a legal commitment to protect people fleeing war and persecution in other countries.
The UK’s commitment to this convention has seen us play an extremely important role in saving lives and welcoming diversity into our communities. Scotland have benefited greatly from welcoming people seeking sanctuary to call Scotland their new home. This is something that the UK should be proud of. Recent polls have shown that almost 75% of Scots want to continue to welcome New Scots.
Sadly, the UK’s proposed UK Nationality and Borders Bill places all that under serious threat. It shifts the focus away from the traumatic and inhumane experiences individuals have fled, and focusses on judging people on the route and means by which they arrived in the UK. Therefore, it creates an unfair 2-tier system and potentially penalises those who have arrived seeking our protection. This bill directly contradicts the Convention:
“The Convention further stipulates that, subject to specific exceptions, refugees should not be penalized for their illegal entry or stay. This recognizes that the seeking of asylum can require refugees to breach immigration rules. Prohibited penalties might include being charged with immigration or criminal offences relating to the seeking of asylum, or being arbitrarily detained purely on the basis of seeking asylum.”
GCP and our colleagues in the sector stand #TogetherWithRefugees. We oppose this inhumane bill and would urge everyone to support our refugee and asylum community members by writing to their MPs asking them to reject this bill and lobby for positive change.
The recent event in Kenmure Street in Glasgow demonstrated that this is not how Scottish people want our friends and neighbours to be treated and that refugees are always welcome here in Scotland. Let's stand together to oppose this bill and campaign for the rights of refugees, and value and celebrate the rich, diverse nation we have become.
Getting involved with campaigns and activism is a big part of what we do at GCP. Check out some of the campaigns, joint letters and petitions we've signed recently:
Sounds of gcp - Refugee festival scotland 2021
We were proud to be part of Refugee Festival Scotland 2021. To mark the festival, our community members hit the airwaves with a two-hour show of music and chat, broadcast on Clyde Built Radio and Sunny Govan. The show was created, recorded and produced by people seeking sanctuary in Glasgow. Sounds of GCP offered refugees and people seeking asylum a platform to share their stories, opinions and favourite music, and the opportunity to develop valuable radio production skills.
If you missed it, don't worry - you can listen again here.
SOVEREIGN BORDERS BILL MARCH 2021 - RESPONSE
We at GCP are extremely disheartened, frustrated and concerned about the Home Secretary’s new proposals for the UK asylum system. The proposals being put forward create a 2-tier system which creates a further inequity in an already divisive and inhumane system. This will further marginalise individuals seeking refuge.
We have released a full statement. Please read it below.
LEADERS 2021 EVENT
In early 2021, we hosted an event about the inclusion of experiences in refugee activism and policy-making in Glasgow and beyond. We were joined by a fantastic panel: Solomon Adebayo and Graham O'Neill (Refugees Ending Destitution project), Pinar Aksu (Maryhill Integration Network), Yvonne Blake (Migrants Organising for Rights & Entitlements), Nico Ndvolu, and Mehdi Saki (Glasgow Night Shelter) who spoke about their work and what more needs to be done to lead with Voices of Experience.
If you missed the event, you can view a summary of the discussion and the main takeaways below.
INTEGRATION NETWORK JOINT LETTER
Following the sad loss of a young man's life in hotel accommodation in Glasgow, GCP and our colleagues from other Integration Networks in the City have jointly written to the Secretary of State asking for an urgent investigation into the decisions taken to move asylum community members into hotel accommodation during the Covid-19 lockdown. View the full letter below.
An Ongoing Emergency: Barriers and solutions in access to fair food for people seeking asylum
Our Food For All participatory action research group (PAR) have recently launched their report into food insecurity experienced by people seeking asylum in the UK. The report also explores and assesses the current provision of support in Glasgow in addressing this issue. This research project was commissioned by the Scottish Government Tackling Food Insecurity Team.
The project brought various stakeholders into discussion and looked to elevate the voices of people with lived experience of the issues in focus. The research employed a coproduction methodology.
Read the report here.
Together with refugees
The UK government is planning to introduce new rules for how we treat refugees. The plans are an attack on people seeking safety and they undermine our obligations under international law.
GCP is proud to be part of Together With Refugees - a coalition of organisations and individuals calling for a more humane approach to people seeking protection in the UK.
We are proud to be part of the Freedom To Crawl campaign, a coalition of asylum and family support organisations. Together, we are campaigning for the closure of the Mears-run mother and baby unit for expectant and new mothers who are seeking asylum.
In January 2021, more than 20 asylum seeking women and their babies were moved out of settled accommodation into the mother and baby unit in Glasgow. They are living in cramped bedsits: confined to a small room, with the cot just steps away from the cooker and a window that barely opens.
If, like us, you believe that all babies should have the #FreedomToCrawl and all mothers should have dignity in housing, take action here. Get your voice heard using their templates to write to your MP and MSPs.
Five Duncan Lewis clients challenge the consultation on the Home Office’s new plan for immigration
On 28th May 2021, Duncan Lewis Solicitors issued a judicial review proceeding on behald of five clients who stand to be affected by the Home Office's New Plan for Immigration. The Claimants are challenging the lawfulness of the Secretary of State for the Home Department's (SSHD) consultation on the New Plan for Immigration which ran from 24th March to 6th May 2021. Read more here.
RESPONSE TO THE NEW PLAN FOR IMMIGRATION
We at GCP have been extremely disheartened, frustrated and concerned about the new proposed plan for immigration put forward by the Home Secretary. The online consultation is in our view shambolic, tokenistic and unmeaningful. It is clearly constructed in a way which does not allow for responses to completely oppose the suggested measures in plans, has been timed in a way to exclude devolved nations from responding due the elections, and no consultation has taken place with those with lived experience of the UK immigration system. We have emailed our response as the online form did not allow space for us to include some of the comments from individuals with lived experience. We will be working with all of our colleagues and partners across the asylum sector and Scottish MPs to oppose the proposals and campaign for change which is inclusive and supportive, not divisive and inhumane.
Read our full response below.
ENDING DESTITUTION TOGETHER
We commend the Scottish Government and COSLA for acknowledging the importance of engaging with Experts by Experience in creating the new strategy to support migrants facing destitution. Along with the Scottish Refugee and funded by Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, we are proud to have contributed to the development of the Ending Destitution Together strategy.
Read the full report here and read our summary of the strategy below.
GCP is part of the Roof Coalition - a coalition of charities, lawyers and grassroots organisations upholding the housing rights of people seeking asylum in Scotland and beyond. To keep up to date with campaigning, follow Roof Coalition on social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.