“… evicting people onto the street does nothing,
apart from create more illnesses, more miseries and more risks of death.
It has to stop.”
Shade Alonge, for DeButterfly CIC and Mama Health and Poverty Partnership,
On 19th November, two members of the human rights organisation RAPAR, both of whom live in the city of Manchester, both of whom fled from persecution in their home countries and both of whom have been awarded Refugee Status, received letters from SERCO telling them that they are to be evicted from their homes on 29th November and 17th December respectively.
The private company SERCO, whose Chief Executive Officer is Rupert Soames the brother of ex-MP for the Conservative Party, Sir Nicholas, is contracted by the Home Office to accommodate people seeking asylum in the North West. Under non-COVID conditions, there are two points in time at which SERCO are entitled, legally, to tell Refugee People that they intend to evict them from their homes:
On 27th October, Chris Philp MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Immigration Compliance and the Courts wrote to Charity Chief Executives about the: “necessary decision of 27 March to suspend cessations [that’s stop evicting people seeking asylum and refugees into destitution]… due to the impact of Covid, [has meant] there has been a lack of flow through the asylum support system; this has resulted in many individuals remaining in these facilities for longer periods. We have now resumed cessations where appropriate…”
Then, on 31st October, Prime Minister Johnson announced a second lockdown to begin on 5th November. The restrictions include the following “People are being told to stay at home unless they have a specific reason to leave, such as work which cannot be done from home and education.”
On 13th November, the International Observatory for Human Rights reported: “UK homeless charities are calling on the government to suspend evictions of asylum seekers, as more and more are being made destitute this winter. During the first lockdown, the government’s “everyone in” scheme provided temporary accommodation and testing for COVID-19, but this stopped in September. The Home Office then restarted evictions, leaving many in a vulnerable situation and heightened risk of contracting COVID-19.” 
Two days before receiving these eviction letters, secondary legislation was introduced banning evictions in England until January.
Commenting on this particular attempt by SERCO to evict Refugees during lockdown, Shade Alonge, Founder and Lead Counsellor for DeButterfly CIC, who recently joined the call for StatusNow4All, and who speaks here on behalf of Mama Health and Poverty Partnership of Greater Manchester also says:
" When COVID first began, the people who came forward to feed and shelter undocumented women and their children, now some of them are running out of food and money for themselves, as well as for the people who they are helping. It is becoming very desperate and evicting people onto the street does nothing, apart from create more illnesses, more miseries and more risks of death. It has to stop."
And a RAPAR spokesperson, analysing the timings relating to the 17th December notice observes: “The notice date is for 17th December. If lockdown is lifted countrywide for five days at Christmas SERCO, as a part of their contract with the Home Office, could start the eviction process then. A very cynical move.”
 Serco lands another £45m for ‘failing’ COVID Test and Trace scheme | openDemocracy
 Government bans evictions until January | News | Law Gazette
 Status Now 4 All - 'Leave To Remain' for people who are undocumented, destitute, and those in the legal process #HealthAndSafetyForAll
Guardian journalist John Harris has written a hard hitting article about the appalling housing conditions in which many people who are seeking asylum are forced to live. His piece helps to demonstrate why companies such as G4S and Serco, which also run detention centres, should not be given contracts for asylum housing in the UK.
John also visited the RAPAR office and spoke to some of our members who have been forced into destitution by the asylum system.
Read his article here - the interviews at RAPAR are covered in the final part of the article.