Category Archives: news

SCOTTISH HOMES FOR UNACCOMPANIED ASYLUM SEEKING REFUGEE YOUNG PEOPLE DISPERSED FROM KENT. IF SCOTTISH LOCAL AUTHORITIES WANT TO.

230 households have stepped forward from our Room for Refugees Scotland Register, offering to take in unaccompanied child refugees. 14 potential host families will be attending Glasgow City Councils drop ins next week in the City Chambers. There are 32 households in Edinburgh and many in other local authority areas too.

For more information email home@positiveactionh.org.

THE US TAXPAYER WILL IN THE END PAY FOR TRUMP’S WALL TO BE BUILT – AND UNBUILT.

Theresa May, the UK PM is the first world leader to meet with the US President, a narcissistic, misogynistic, racist mutt. At least the Mexicans showed their dignity, pride and class by cancelling a scheduled meeting. The President has already shot the US in the foot, by saying the Mexicans will pay for his 2,000 mile Trump wall. Mexico’s President responded brilliantly by saying, actually Americans will be paying for the wall through increased retail prices. Presidents last only so long. No doubt his successor in five years will issue an executive order to tear that wall down. And who will pay for that? The US taxpayer. President Trump is now stating his intention for a public register of immigrants who commit crimes, and wants a ban on refugees or Muslims entering the US.

Former Mexican President's message for Trump

"I think he needs to grow up. He needs to understand that he is President today of the most important nation in the world. He has to change, now."Former Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada has this message for Donald J. Trump.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Friday, 27 January 2017

 

Opinion: We have to build this wall. And keep this clown inside it.

 

Opinion: We have to build a wall. And keep this clown called US President inside it.

Trump’s Visa Ban is about anti-Muslim Bigotry, not Security. By far, the majority of terrorist acts and political violence in the United States is committed by white supremacists. Donald Trump wants to build a wall to keep out Muslims and immigrants. He wants to stop refugees from Syria. The thing is people from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and Turkey and Iran, in fact most muslim countries of the world cant get into America anyway because of the visa restrictions. Yet president Trump is insistent must build that 2,000 mile long wall on planet earth (which is really in noone’s ownership). How ironic that earth was respected and nurtured by the true non immigrants, the Native Americans. Sad, ironic and true, in this post truth, post fact, post dignity world. The answer to this walking, talking hate crime is for minorities, whoeever we are, whatever religion, to remain united, and challenge the hate, and support each another, for people everywhere to look beyond the headlines infected with negative stereotypes of minorities, immigrants, refugees, muslims. The media increasingly repeats lies instead of responsibly challenging them, and in turn is part and parcel of planting racism and fascism in society. Don’t let them divide us or confuse us, let’s stay united. This too will pass.

Robina Qureshi

To donate to positive action in housing’s anti racism work please go to www.paih.org/donate.

Proposed short term holding facility at Abbotsinch Road to replace Dungavel

Proposed short term holding facility at Abbotsinch Road – to replace Dungavel

A planning application has been lodged by Arora Hotels/Management Services/Property with Renfrewshire Council in Scotland to build a 51-bed “short-term holding facility” on Abbotsinch Road. The “facility” will effectively detain or imprison “families, the disabled and the vulnerable”.

Positive Action has submitted a formal letter of objection which is at this link.

We are concerned this facility will reinstate the disgraceful and inhuman practice of detaining children, who have committed no crime, and who face psychological damage in their most formative years. The imprisonment of children at Dungavel was ended in 2010.

We are concerned that conditions will be much worse, with no external visitors or communications. Furthermore, we know that would-be refugees already in our communities will be in greater fear of removal from Scotland, in addition to detention. Between 2007 and 2016, there have been 926 individuals recorded as being at risk of self-harm in Dungavel alone. In 2004, and 2013, two people committed suicide at dungavel.

We are also  concerned that Aurora is trying to justify the proposed facility by using a policy intended to favour distribution/logistics businesses which would only make sense if one regards human beings as “freight” (see Grounds 2 and 3 of the attached letter of objection).

Time is short. The deadline for planning objections is this Saturday 22 October 2016.

 

We need as many people as possible to formally object to this proposal going ahead.

 

Call to Action

 

If you want to stop the Abbotsinch proposal going ahead, you can do so now by emailing dc@renfrewshire.gov.uk and following these essential steps:

  1. The subject heading of your email should be: PLANNING APPLICATION REFERENCE: 16/0655/PP.
  2. You must provide your full name and address in your email
  3. Attach our model letter of objection which is provided in word format at this link: http://tinyurl.com/modelobjection . (please forgive the planning jargon)
  4. Please remember to amend the model letter to include your full name and address.
  5. Copy your email and attached letter objection to home@paih.org , and your local MP, MSP.
  6. If you live in the Renfrewshire Council area, please copy in your local councillor.
  7. Write to your local paper to express your concern

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. Positive Action in Housing is an independent refugee and migrant homelessness and human rights charity. We work with individuals and families to rebuild lives. We assist those seeking refuge to overcome crisis situations, for example, the removal of their basic human rights such as liberty, refuge, shelter and the right to work. By empowering people with information, we help individuals to make the right decisions about their future. Through casework, we challenge unfair decisions. We offer welfare advice and money skills. We offer advice, crisis grants and shelter to those at risk of destitution. We lead human rights campaigns, most recently concerning the refugee crisis. We persistently challenge anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment. We believe in a society where everyone has the right to live safe and dignified lives, free from poverty, homelessness or discrimination.

 

  1. Between 2007 and 2016, there have been 926 individuals recorded as being at risk of self-harm in Dungavel alone. In 2004, and 2013, two people committed suicide at dungavel. (All data was obtained from UKBA under the Freedom of Information Act)

 

  1. We understand the proposal has been put forward by Tim Jurdon, an employee of Arora Hotels/Management Services/Property. Arora is headed by Surinder Arora, a hotelier who, in 2013, came 22nd on the Sunday Times rich list with an estimated wealth of £350M. Mr Arora is now making his money in the most modern way possible – asylum seekers. In 2010, Crawley Borough Council rejected a planning application by Arora International Hotels to convert a 254 bed Hotel into an immigration detention centre.

 

  1. There tends to be a general ignorance of the role and function of “short term holding facilities” and “immigration removal centres”. Their function is not solely, or even largely, that of holding of so-called ‘failed’ asylum seekers prior to removal, it is the ‘administrative detention’ of people within the asylum process and those prior to removal. Each year hundreds of people pass through these facilities that are eventually released back into the community and granted leave to remain in the UK.

 

  1. Press enquiries: Call 07581046473 or email home@paih.org

 

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Petition: Calling on UK Gov to engage with refugee hosting schemes

Please sign our petition at www.change.org

Room For RefugeesPositive Action in Housing (Registered Charity SC027577) is a refugee and migrant homelessness charity with a global remit. We run the Room for Refugees Scheme whereby people offer to take refugees into their own homes. We have almost 3,500 fully-registered refugee hosts in every single part of the UK. We run the scheme in partnership with 147 caseworkers from refugee support agencies including the British Red Cross and the Refugee Council. Since September 2015, we have provided over 12,000 nights of shelter and seen life transforming changes for both hosts and guests. Some hosts have seen their guests achieve refugee status and move onto independent lives and to be reunited with their own families and keep up the bond with their hosts. Other hosts are accommodating bright young students hoping to study medicine or law. They have become members of the family. Other families have adopted refugee grandmothers as a member of their household. The matches are amazing to observe and the feedback is inspiring!

The need for such a scheme has never been greater.

So far this year, over 4,000 refugees have drowned trying to reach Europe. More than 10,000 women, children, babies, have drowned since 2014 in the Mediterranean. More people have drowned than in previous years, because refugees are taking more dangerous routes as a result of being denied safe passage by Europe. There are 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees already in Europe. Europol says more than 10,000 unaccompanied refugee children have disappeared in Europe during the past 2 years. Many of the missing children are feared to have been forced into sex trafficking rings or forced labour.

The British Government is currently using local authorities and private landlords to resettle Syrian refugees under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.So far, the Government has resettled only 1,602 Syrian refugees since September 2015. This falls short of the 5,000 a year target the government committed to. At the time, David Cameron said Britain should fulfill its moral responsibility. Their performance on the accommodation of unaccompanied child refugees is also pitiful.

We have urged the UK Government to engage with refugee hosting schemes. Theresa May, the then-home secretary, told the Home Affairs Select Committee she would “consider” such schemes, but the public have heard no more since. This is such a shame as we have seen firsthand how our hosts have so much more to offer as well as somewhere to stay. if they did let us register with the VPR Scheme we would be able to bring more people in quicker.

We think the British government needs to utilise the goodwill of those of its citizens who have the space to take refugees into their homes. We have thousands of families and individuals who are ready to open their homes and hearts to refugees in need. Many hundreds have expressed a willingness to take in unaccompanied child refugees. Many of these are registered foster-carers.Room for refugees has the capacity to accommodate Syrian and other refugees in every part of the UK, effectively bypassing those local authorities who have not registered with the home office under the VPR Scheme.

We therefore call on the British government to harness the goodwill of those individuals and families who are willing to take refugees into their homes and quickly resettle Syrian refugees so that they may begin the process of rebuilding their lives.

Please sign the petition at www.change.org.

More info: www.roomforrefugees.com
Give a safe, secure online donation to our work via BT MyDonate
Keep in touch with our work by liking Room For Refugees on Facebook.

Syrian Refugees

Many areas of Scotland have now started accepting refugees being resettled under the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement (VPR) Programme. A co-ordinated response between the DWP, local authorities, Scottish Government, housing providers and other key partners has been put into place so that there should not be any delays in those resettled under the programme getting access to DWP administered benefits. This includes fast track national insurance number allocation and assistance at a single jobcentre appointment to make all appropriate applications. So far feedback suggests that this co-ordinated approach is working but campaigners still have a number of concerns:

  • There are no exceptions to the past presence rules for refugees claiming disability living allowance, personal independence payments, attendance allowance or carer’s allowance. As such, those resettled under the programme will still have to wait 2 years before they can claim these benefits
  • Maternity grants aren’t normally available to families which include a child under 16. Again there are no exceptions to this rule for refugees
  • HMRC who administer child benefit and child tax credit are not involved in the co-ordinated response and it is unclear how long it is taking to process claims from the refugees resettled under this programme

It is hoped that the co-ordinated approach taken to assisting Syrians under this programme can be extended to others granted refugee status or other forms of leave to remain following an asylum application.

The Scots taking refugees into their homes and their hearts

Sunday Herald, February 14, 2016

Scotland took pride in offering a home to a disproportionate number of refugees when the UK Government agreed to house 1,000 of those fleeing from the Syrian crisis at the end of last year.

However, away from the spotlight of those forced to flee the fighting in the Middle East, a record number of asylum seekers who were already here in the UK are being left destitute and without adequate access to food, while housing support for refugees may be completely stopped by the UK Government if a claim is refused.

The British Red Cross sent out that stark warning last month as it revealed that even those who have been granted a legal right to stay here can end up destitute as a result of difficulties in accessing benefits and bank accounts.

It is in this context that Robina Qureshi, director of Glasgow-based charity Positive Action in Housing (PAIH), a scheme to help volunteers offer rooms to destitute asylum seekers and refugees, has claimed that the UK Government is failing those of have been forced to seek refuge here.

Qureshi, said: “We see it as being a force for good in the current context of the refugee crisis. We have housed people in Scotland, England and Wales. We have 2,800 hosts who have volunteered as of February 2016 and the numbers are still going up.”

But she added: “The only reason these schemes need to exist is because governments have failed people.”

Qureshi said PAIH is planning to expand the Rooms for Refugees initiative internationally to countries such as the US, France and Canada.

The scheme was originally set up in 2004 as a response to help asylum seekers and refugees left without any financial support or accommodation. The recent plight of refugees enduring dangerous journeys to try to make their way to a new life in Europe has inspired people, including many here in Scotland, to offer space in their own home.

Qureshi added: “We use an online system to safely match up people who are refugees to hosts. We will increase the level of checking depending on who is vulnerable – for example, if there are children in the home.

“We have had years of experience of this and never had anything that suggested this scheme is not safe. Our priority as a charity to make sure it is safe for everybody involved.”

Qureshi said potential hosts in other countries had expressed interest in the scheme and it was hoped to expand it to New York in the first instance. A fundraising scheme is currently underway to enable the appointment of a dedicated co-ordinator for the project in the UK and abroad.

She said: “We are making links with refugee organisations in other countries to see how it could be adapted. We want to take it to New York and build up links with organisations that have contact with people who are homeless, and haven’t got recourse to funds or support, and see on a case-by-case basis if it can work.

“If it can work we will start to grow it in key cities in America.”

Here some of the Scots who have opened their doors as part of the Rooms for Refugees scheme and their guests tell their stories:

Alison Cannibal, a primary school teacher and her husband Dr Gen Cannibal, an environmental consultant, decided to offer the use of a room in their house in Glasgow last autumn. Cannibal, 48, said she was inspired to do something to help after seeing news reports on the refugee crisis.

She said: “I just thought there has to be something I can do – and if it just takes me to open my home and offer a room to someone, if that helps them to get where they need to be, then at least I am doing something.”

Cannibal admitted she was “a bit apprehensive” before the first guest arrived, but added: “I would like to think we are open-minded enough to adapt to anything that is thrown at us.”

Hamid Mohammadi, 37, who arrived in the UK nine years ago from Iran and has been seeking political asylum in the UK, has been staying with the Cannibals since December.

He had previously been living with a friend, but was left homeless and having to sleep in emergency night shelters after his friend’s circumstances changed.

Cannibal said: “What I didn’t realise before he came to live with us is just how awful things are for people claiming asylum. It is a terrible situation for any human being to be in.

“Having him here has been brilliant, he has been integrated as part of the family and we are kind of his surrogate Scottish parents. Quite often we sit and eat together in the evening and he had his first experience of Christmas with us, which was great.”

She added: “I am happy in the knowledge that I am helping somebody because you don’t know what is round the corner – you don’t know if you would ever be in that situation or if your children would be in that situation for whatever reason.

“I think before anything you have to be a human being – you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and think I have done what I can to help and try to encourage other people to do the same.

“It is easy to say the government should be helping, but if there were more people who were willing to be broad minded and open their hearts and their home, then maybe the world wouldn’t be as bigoted and angry as it is.”

Mohammadi, who is in the process of applying for a fresh asylum claim, said he had turned to PAIH for help as he was having difficulty finding a place to stay after a knee operation.

“It meant I couldn’t walk up stairs or anything like that,” he said. “I had nowhere to stay and no support.

“They are a very good family and I do feel part of the family now. It has been a huge help for me.”

Edith Facenna, 61, has been offering space to refugees in her home in Glasgow for six years and has hosted around 30 people in that time, from countries including Afghanistan, Iran, China, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Ghana, Nigeria, Iraq and Somalia,

She decided to participate in the scheme after reading about how asylum seeker were treated in the UK.

She said: “Before the first guest I was quite nervous – some people when I told them what I was going to be doing said ‘Are you mad? You will have a stranger in your house, they will steal off you and so on.

“I have three sons and they were all very supportive, but I was also really lucky as the first person who came through from Somalia, I am still good friends with her.

“When she arrived she had a black bag with her which had all her bits and pieces were in.

“It dawned on me that anything she could steal off me was insured and it wouldn’t be the end of the world – whereas everything she owned was in that black bag. And it was great from then on.”

She added: “There is so much misinformation about what asylum seekers and refugees get, which is all rubbish. There is a lot of fearmongering about all these people that are going to come here and we are not going to be able to cope with them.”

Facenna said she had hosted people for varying lengths of time, from a few days to five months. She said she had heard some harrowing stories, including a couple from Afghanistan who had lost a child in an accident shortly before they arrived to stay.

She said: “They have two children now and I am their adopted granny now. There was also a woman from Somalia who had seen some of her family blown to pieces. It is very, very tough for people.”

She added: “I have met some really nice people I am still friends with, and it makes you feel good doing something for other people. I thought if I am going to pay all this money in bills for the house, I might as well share it with someone.

“You have to be quite easy going and not get too stressed about things. But things I used to worry about before, I don’t worry about now – as you know people who have nothing, who have lost all contact with their family in a foreign country. You just think about walking in their shoes for five minutes.”

Among those who have stayed with Facenna include Zuyin Lin, 52 and his wife Yu Mei Mei, 49, who left China due to the risk of persecution for being a member of the country’s “underground” Roman Catholic Church.

The couple were homeless before they went to stay with Edith for five months in 2013, but have now got their own flat after being given permission to stay in the UK.

After securing work in a restaurant as a kitchen hand, one of the first things Lin did was to donate £100 to PAIH to help others.

When asked to sum up what it meant to be able to stay in Facenna’s home, Lin, who has limited English, simply said: “My shelter is Edith.”

Katriona, 64, who does not want her real name to be used to protect her guest, became involved in the Rooms for Refugees scheme after she retired. Over the past four years she has hosted people from China, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and Eritrea.

She said: “My first guest was by far the most difficult – he was a Chinese gentlemen who didn’t speak any English at all. He wasn’t very well and he didn’t stay very long, maybe three weeks.

“But overall for me it has been an amazing experience. I think my home is big enough that we are not on top of each other – I think that is important, especially when you are starting off as strangers.

“It has just added a whole extra dimension to life, meeting different people and hearing their stories, which have been very different.”

For the past 18 months she has been hosting Lisa, a woman from Eritrea in her 30s who did not want to be identified, who has been in the UK for the past three years and has been refused asylum.

Lisa had arrived home from college one day to find the locks on her accommodation had been changed and her belongings had been removed – which left her only with the clothes she was wearing on the streets of Glasgow. At the time, she couldn’t read English well and so did not understand any warning letters that her support was being cut off because of her failed asylum claim.

Katriona said: “I am very fond of her – she is an orphan and I feel like her mother.”

But she also stressed she wanted to enable guests to be independent when staying in her home.

“I am offering someone a home, so I give them a cupboard in the kitchen and they can cook for themselves,” she said. “It is very difficult to be dependent on someone else and she doesn’t really want me to be feeding her because that will cost me money.

“When I have been away for the weekend she even turned the heating off to save me money.”

She added: “She has nothing, she is not allowed to work – it is kind of unimaginable. It is no life for a young woman.”

Katriona said she would recommend taking part in the Rooms for Refugee scheme to anyone that had the space to do so.

“It is a scandal that people are destitute in Glasgow and I am totally shocked by it,” she said.

For Lisa, who is in the process of applying for asylum again, the support Katriona has given has been invaluable. She said: “She is like my family now.”

For more information or to donate to the Rooms for Refugees scheme visit: roomforrefugees.com or mydonate.bt.com/events/wehaveroomforrefugees/245242

 

 

Together Against Prevent

Together Against Prevent

We are a signatory to the ‘Together Against Prevent’ statement that says:

  • We recognise and condemn the damage that Prevent’s “spot the potential terrorist” approach has made primarily in stigmatising and criminalising entire Muslim communities, but also to a growing number of political activists and campaigners labelled with ill-defined terms like “non-violent extremist” or “domestic extremist”.
  • We view Prevent as a policy that is based on insufficient evidence to support the flawed assumption that ‘extremist’ ideology opposed to subjective ‘British values’ is the single most important cause of terrorism. We therefore support closer collaboration between different campaigning, religious and community organisations to call on the government to end its Prevent strategy.
  • We support and encourage more political debate in schools, colleges and universities and reject attempts to close down and censor dissenting voices. We welcome open discussion with all young people about potentially radical ideas and call on all educational institutions to vigorously defend the right to free academic inquiry on issues considered ‘controversial’.
  • We pledge to take no Prevent funds and support non-cooperation, wherever possible, with local Prevent programmes.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission has produced a comprehensive page of Prevent Strategy Campaign resources and the following links are also helpful:

Palestine Solidarity Campaign ‘Prevent Duty Guidance’ response

Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) – The Prevent Duty: a guide for branches and members July 2015 pdf_icon

Room for Refugees U.K. Western Europe and the U.S. – Refugee Hosting Scheme

DEB2015012G1009-2872R

 

 

 

 

 

 

Room for Refugees is one of those ideas that makes the world a better place. It brings people together, those who need to find a home when they have lost all else, with generous individuals who want to share their home.

The concept was pioneered by Positive Action in Housing (Reg Charity No SC027577) in 2003/4. It is believed to be the oldest scheme of its kind in Western Europe. The Scheme went viral in September 2015 as the Syrian Crisis reached the public conscience. It is now rapidly growing month by month with new hosts as well as placements.

It is an active, tried and tested scheme with a 100% safety track record.  The scheme can be administered on-line by smartphone or pc to make it almost entirely paperless and relatively quick. The scheme currently has 30 or so partners across Scotland and the UK and we are developing new partnerships in Western Europe and the U.S. The software is constantly being improved to enable us to bring our expertise in safe hosting to the rest of the world.

DEB2015012G1007-2303The scale of the refugee crisis makes housing an enormous challenge, but not insurmountable. Room for Refugees, specialised and pioneering as it is, has the scope to help people across the globe. This scheme is a sensitive, human approach to helping individuals caught up in this crisis.

As of December 2015, we have 2,568 volunteer refugee hosts across the UK, with increasing numbers across Western Europe and the U.S. We are actively housing refugee families and individuals, and building up refugee partner agencies across the UK, Western Europe and the U.S. So far in 2015, the scheme, has provided 2,489 nights of free shelter through refugee hosts to people from refugee and asylum seeking communities in Scotland and across the UK.

 

Statement by Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing:

“The Room for Refugees scheme has saved the taxpayer millions each year. The level of pastoral support to enable individuals to resettle and rebuild their lives is unrivalled and outshines dumping vulnerable people into isolating, often hostile, sink estates and slum housing without community support.

“Western Governments are blinding themselves to a unique and major opportunity to respond in a humanitarian way to the plight of refugees, who they are responsible for. Decades of Western European and UK asylum policy is clearly and specifically designed to deter refugees from coming into Europe.

“The UK Government is playing down the true capacity of this country to take in refugees. As this scheme shows, there is ample space to take in refugees within the UK. People living here are desperate to share their homes, with many offering multiple rooms, and even whole houses, which would otherwise lie empty. We also have immense wealth to take care of those in need.  But the UK government does not wish to admit this because it then needs to accept it is complicit in making refugees homeless while they are still in the middle of the legal process of claiming refuge, and this was the reason our scheme was set up in the first place.

“Positive Action in Housing is dedicated to growing this scheme, to supporting refugees and those seeking asylum, and to making the world a better place by sharing what we have with those who so desperately need it.”

20151215_200220For more info contact Robina Qureshi, Director, Positive Action in Housing at tel 0141 353 2220 or email robina@paih.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More info

  1. Like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Room-for-Refugees-UK-Western-Europe-US-1657359921170715/?fref=ts
  2. To become a volunteer refugee host please register your details online at www.roomforrefugees.com
  3. Caseworkers in Scotland, the UK, Western Europe and the U.S. who support destitute refugees and asylum seekers with no recourse to funds can refer destitute families or individuals to the online system, and  should email home@paih.org to be registered onto Room for Refugees. we will then match their clients with suitable hosts.
  4. To register to host a refugee family or individual in need of free, temporary shelter, please register your details at Www.roomforrefugees.com
  5. To help keep the scheme growing, please make a  donation here https://mydonate.bt.com/events/wehaveroomforrefugees, to pay for the running of Room for Refugees.
  6. To protect our independence, we are sustained by donations averaging about £25 a year. Only a tiny portion of our subscribers give. If everyone reading this right now gave £3 to £4 a month, our fundraiser would be done. We’re a small non-profit charity with costs of developing cutting edge projects and employing staff.  You can set up a regular payment of £4 a month or however much you can afford by clicking here https://mydonate.bt.com/donation/start.html?charity=81788. (We use BT MyDonate because they do not charge fees for using the service so all your donation goes to a good cause).
  7. You can also donate by paying using Paypal to our email addressdonate@paih.org
  8. For other ways to donate, email home@paih.org
  9. Positive Action in Housing is an anti racist refugee homelessness charity with a global remit. We are a Scottish Registered Charity (SC027577) and a Company Limited by Guarantee (158867).