PRESS RELEASE: 14th Nov. 2022: RESIDENT OF HOTEL HOUSING PEOPLE SEEKING ASYLUM IS ON 12th DAY OF A HUNGER STRIKE
RESIDENT OF HOTEL HOUSING PEOPLE SEEKING ASYLUM IS ON 12th DAY OF A HUNGER STRIKE
HE IS PROTESTING ABOUT CONDITIONS AND TREATMENT AT THE SERCO MANAGED ACCOMMODATION IN STOCKPORT
A man who has been living with his family at a Serco managed hotel in Stockport - which has been the subject of widespread complaints - has now been on hunger strike for 12 days, protesting about conditions at the hotel and the way Serco staff treat residents.
RAPAR sent an Open Letter to Stockport council, and the town's four MPs, after being told that Serco were not responding to residents' safeguarding and health and safety complaints. Stockport council said they shared RAPAR's concerns (see press release from 10th Nov. immediately below).
Attempts by residents to reach Migrant Help, the organisation tasked by the Home Office with relaying residents' complaints to Serco, are frequently unsuccessful and many people have given up trying. This is a UK wide problem which is not being properly acknowledged by the Home Office or Serco. (On the Guardian: ‘It just rings and rings’: Home Office helpline for asylum seekers rated inadequate)
The hopelessness of the situation and his belief that no-one was listening led one man to start a hunger strike on November 2nd. He was taken to hospital two days later after collapsing at the hotel.
RAPAR became aware of his hunger strike on November 5th, the day after he was admitted to hospital and, since then, we have been liaising with hospital staff, social workers, and medical and legal professionals. His wife, who has type 1 diabetes, has been in the same hospital since the end of October and their daughter is currently living with a family friend.
During the last week, RAPAR has become increasingly concerned about the man's health. He was given fluids through a drip but this was disconnected and he has had no fluids since the drip was removed on Friday, November 10th. If this continues, it is likely to have serious consequences for his health.
He has been told he will be returned to the hotel but both he and his wife are frightened of going back because of the abuse they say they were subjected to in the past, and RAPAR has asked Stockport council and local MPs to assist with finding alternative and safe accommodation.
He is willing to take fluids intravenously but, at the moment, the drip remains disconnected and RAPAR has grave fears for his health.
His conditions for stopping the hunger strike include the introduction of a secure and efficient mechanism for all hotel residents to report complaints and concerns. But he is also asking for the immediate cessation of any attempts by the hospital staff to return him or his wife to the hotel. He says there should be no further interaction with him or his wife about leaving the hospital unless an appropriate interpreter and a RAPAR advocate are present.
Last week, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration David Neal said housing people seeking asylum in hotels is "grim" and urged the Home Office to speed up the decision making process so people can begin to rebuild their lives. (On the Metro: Keeping asylum seekers in hotels is 'grim', says inspector)
Dr Rhetta Moran of RAPAR said: “The Government’s ‘hostile environment’ is attempting to distract us from the many profound crises we face in housing, the cost of living, the health service etc. These crises have been manufactured through the systematic privatisation and underfunding of public services and housing and naked profiteering by a tiny minority. Their attempts to ferment xenophobia and make refugees the scapegoats is simply the latest version of divide and rule.
"At the same time as Government policies deny people seeking asylum their right to work legally, its Home Office pays the private firm Serco to ‘house and look after’ people in the asylum system. The job they have done so far is so terrible that our member has felt compelled to hunger strike. His actions are intended to demonstrate, beyond any doubt, the depth of his family’s experience of inhumane and degrading treatment at the hands of this Government appointed firm, and the utter uselessness of the complaints mechanisms that are supposed to address its failings. He must not be returned to that hotel. It is unsafe."
For more information please contact:
Dr Rhetta Moran 07776 264646
Kath Grant 07865 713474