Video of food and conditions at Serco-run hotel

4 November 2021

A man who fled the humanitarian crisis in Yemen has shared pictures of food and conditions at a Liverpool hotel run by Rupert Soame’s Serco multinational. The meal includes a bruised apple, an unidentifiable meat and portions of pasta.

He also claims asylum seekers had been put up in cold, leaking and overcrowded rooms in two Liverpool hotels. The man calls the conditions “disastrous” and the food has been described as disgusting. He said: “It is cold in the rooms, really cold - and I cannot open the heaters. When I try, the electricity goes off." Speaking about the food being served, he added: “They [asylum seekers] have to eat it because they are hungry, but sometimes they throw some of it away. And then they don’t get enough money to buy food, so you have to be patient and wait until the next meal." The man said he had called, emailed, and tweeted with his concerns.

He said: “They [Serco] don’t respond whatsoever. Nobody listens." 

A Serco spokesperson said that staff at the hotels "had a good relationship with the asylum seekers.” And that the “accommodation is in “very good condition” and that “There have been no incidents or complaints during the last month about food etc or incidents relating to issues with food."

Of course there hasn’t.

Many asylum seekers in hotels don’t speak English, and even if they do, most are fearful of complaining about a Home Office accommodation contractor that controls their lives 24/7. The fear factor has been ramped up and this is evidenced by the reluctance of asylum seekers to speak as openly to the press as they once did. Serco decides and controls their access to food, warmth, WiFi, money and shelter. Crucially Serco has close links with the Home Office. The government agency decides their asylum claims and whether they get to stay here or be returned to the persecution they fled. Many asylum seekers have told us that building a life here is the only way their families abroad will survive because refugees here intend to send money home somehow. So much depends on their legal status. Yet, when one person dares to speak up about food and conditions, Serco’s answer is to deny the problem and introduce red herrings about having good relationships but never to address the complaint. The Home Office doesn’t investigate, it’s so obvious, they simply provide cut and pasted responses to the media. The food is not fit for animals never mind human beings and people are complaining about freezing. They are reduced to this situation, but neither the Home Office or the accommodation contractor is willing to address it. 

This is gaslighting, a new way of handling press questions about the treatment of asylum seekers in hotels and barracks. 

Robina Qureshi 

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