Gaslighting of refugees Continues

21 November 2020

This story is an example of the living conditions that asylum seekers are often placed in by Mears, and how they are punished for complaining about their living conditions, causing further anxiety and mental health problems.

A young asylum seeker has been left in “shameful and degrading” conditions after housing bosses refused to move her from a filthy flat. Uerrey Kaitjo is now spending all her time in the bedroom of the property – eating, sleeping and studying – due to her living conditions. The 28-year-old health and social care student said she would rather opt to be homeless than live in the flat but her pleas have failed to move Mears, the housing provider.

A decent socially responsible landlord would say, okay this is wrong and we will move you. But instead, John Taylor , Head of Operations at Mears (previously at Orchard and Shipman) simply engaged in gaslighting the young woman by denying there was a problem.

Instead of accepting that the “customer” is right on this occasion, he even went to the trouble of sending his housing officer, S, to the flat to take “sanitised” images to counter the complaint. Unheard of. The images they took are deceptive and do not show the years of filth behind and under the cooker, the rodent droppings or the dead insects, or the stinking smell pervading the entire flat.

The kitchen

Uerii says the housing officer, S, told her that Mears was not happy with her complaint and that she would no longer be moved, despite being sent a letter telling her she would be moved on November 24.

Uerii claims that this was the state of the accommodation since May 2020 when she was first moved into shared accommodation. She says her bedroom was clean but the communal areas were filthy, smelling and the living room cluttered with someone else’s belongings. She said she had repeatedly asked to be moved before asking Positive Action in Housing to help, but her housing officer told her there was nothing wrong with the flat. With level four lockdown Uerii will be unable to escape these living conditions and we fear her anxiety will yet worsen.

The living room

Uerii was this week sent a letter from the Home Office telling her that she would be moved to new accommodation on November 24. But on Tuesday a housing officer visited to tell her the letter was sent in error and the property is of a suitable standard.

Robina Qureshi, director of the charity Positive Action in Housing, said:

“The attitude of Mears and the Home Office is arrogance and indifference. Basically they are gaslighting refugees. The photographic evidence is indisputable, these are shameful and degrading conditions to put anyone into. With level four lockdown Uerii will be unable to escape these living conditions and we fear her anxiety will yet worsen.

“To make things worse, Mears sent a letter telling her she would be moved on November 24, but after our complaint the Mears housing officer advised Uerii that they were not happy that we had raised a complaint and she would not be moving after all. They are being callous and sending the message to refugees to accept dirty living conditions or else be punished for complaining.”

In correspondence with Positive Action in Housing, Mears explained the dirt and clutter by saying the woman sharing Uerrey’s flat gathers clothing for charity.

Responding to the Glasgow Times, a Mears spokesman said:

“The claims being made by PAIH are a misrepresentation of the situation at this property. The property is in very good order and well maintained. Service users are asked to be respectful of each other in shared properties and to clean up after themselves. Mears staff visit regularly and we are aware of issues currently with a large collection of charitable items being stored at the property and further issues connected with volunteer food preparation being carried out in the kitchen. We have asked the resident who does voluntary charitable work to arrange to distribute the charitable items so that the communal area is clear for both service users and in future to make sure the kitchen is cleaned after use.”

Qureshi added: “Their statement about the flatmate just taking in ‘charitable clothing donations’ is a red herring. The living room accommodation is extremely hoarded with someone else’s belongings. Glasgow is in a level four lockdown and NHS guidelines suggest there is a risk of transmission from second hand clothes. None of this has been taken into consideration.”

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