A new blog post by Dr Rebecca Yeo on Migration Mobilities Bristol features RAPAR's former Chair, Manjeet Kaur.
Dr Yeo's blog - Disablement and resistance in the British immigration system - explores the intersections between migration policy and disability, argues that '[r]estricted access to services and support is a central tool of immigration policy' and asserts a need for a social model of immigration.
The blog begins:
The distinction between deserving and undeserving individuals has always been core to immigration policy in the UK. However, the hostility and restrictions directed at those framed as ‘undeserving’ has steadily increased. The recently introduced Illegal Migration Bill takes these restrictions to a new level to include detaining and preventing new arrivals from even claiming asylum. The need to build effective opposition has never been more urgent. With this goal, it is important to consider the inequities of the current system, possible alternative approaches to resistance and the barriers that must be addressed.
Manjeet is quoted in the piece:
The social model of disability was developed by Disabled people rather than charitable organisations. However, when people are struggling for immediate survival, there is little capacity to lead resistance. As activist Manjeet Kaur explained to me just months before she died, in the face of immediate struggles as a Disabled asylum seeker, ‘I don’t have the energy… I myself am in a floating boat, I can anytime fall down.’ The capacity for solidarity from the wider Disabled people’s movement is reduced by lack of information and individual struggles in the context of an ever more punitive welfare state. The mantra of the Disabled people’s movement ‘nothing about us, without us’ is as valid as ever, however, the solidarity of allies has never been so important.
Read the full blog here.
Dr Rhetta Moran, RAPAR Founder and member, and Dr Grainne McMahon, Research Lead and member, have recently published an article in Bristol University Press's Policy Press Journal of Poverty and Social Justice setting out key learning from RAPAR and the Babagar family's months-long campaign to expose inhuman conditions in global corporation Serco-run 'contingency hotels' utilised by the UK's Home Office to house people seeking asylum in the UK, and the State's egregious dereliction of statutory duty towards people seeking asylum.
The piece, published in May 2023 is entitled: Where does the buck stop? UK Home Office and other statutory body responses to allegations of human rights violations in two Serco-run hotels housing people seeking asylum (link to online version) and begins with the abstract:
RAPAR applies our participatory action research methods to amplify the living experience of families seeking asylum in the UK who are in ‘contingency accommodation’, aka ‘hotels’, and claiming human rights abuses on these sites. From all over the world, these people are without status in the UK and are therefore without recourse to the public funds that are, theoretically, available to everyone living in the UK with status. Their complete legal dependence on the Home Office and its subcontractors to ‘look after’ them and deal with any complaints leads to the question: why would anyone choose to challenge any organisation about human rights violations when that same organisation exercises such profound control over their day to day living reality? The data comprises contemporaneously collected evidence from individual correspondence, questionnaires, semi-structured conversations and case studies with hotel residents. Our preliminary analysis demonstrates considerable failures of statutory bodies in implementing their statutory duties. No evidence of meaningful investigation by any implicated statutory authority, or their privatised sub-contractors, into the human rights violation allegations asserted by hotel residents has been produced. The Local Authorities and the NHS insist that the Home Office is responsible for hotel residents within their boundaries. In turn, the Home Office, including Greater Manchester Police and sub-contractors Serco and Migrant Help, have failed to address the allegations in any transparent way.
We call for immediate action that enables hotel residents to safely protect themselves and stimulates inclusive solution-making, with them, to end these human rights violations. (Article here.)
After publication of the article, Policy Press invited the authors to contribute a blog to the international online publication Transforming Society. The blog post entitled 'It’s called scapegoating and it’s as old as divide and rule' sets out further understanding of how the UK's hostile environment's relentless spewing out of intrinsically racist policies allows for its longstanding scapegoating of people seeking refuge to continue and to thrive.
The blog begins: The UK government is actively compounding the human suffering that intrinsically racist immigration laws inflict on people seeking asylum.
In fact, our participatory action research over the last 15 months about what is happening to the displaced people who have been placed in ‘contingency hotels’ simply reinforces our certainty that, from the government’s perspective, the more demonising and suffering inflicted on people seeking refuge here, the more the public hears about that suffering, and the more that government’s contractual cronies, such as Migrant Help, get away with not only doing nothing to stop it but actually heaping injury on top, the better.
It is essential, in fact, that the demonising – and coverage of it – continues. (Blog here.)
See more about the campaign here.
See below for the beginning of the latest Manchester Evening News (MEN) report about the Babagar's family’s hotel conditions and their forthcoming criminal defence case. Just this week (w/c 15th of May), the family have been informed by Serco that on next Monday, the 22nd of May, they will be moved out of the Rochdale Hotel that features in the MEN story and into dispersed accommodation. This new accommodation needs to be within striking distance of their child’s school. Since last September, this school has been the one constant security in this young person’s life. At this point, the continuity of the child's education is extremely important for their mental health and for the wellbeing of the family as a whole.
Homeless family who moved hotels after alleged assault say new accommodation has 'unbearable smell' as insects filmed crawling around beds (Manchester Evening News) (published on 16th of May):
An asylum seeker who went on hunger strike after allegations that he was assaulted at a Stockport hotel where his family was housed has been moved. However, arriving at the new accommodation in Rochdale on Friday (May 5), Shay Babagar, his wife and daughter claimed to have found insects crawling around their bed. They are allegations which are denied by Serco, who managed the hotel.
Video footage taken by the family appears to show two bugs on the bed while Shay's wife - who wishes not to be named - speaks of seeing mosquitoes. Serco, which runs both hotels, claims that the family has not reported finding insects on the bed to staff on site or through independent complaints routes.
The company, which runs asylum accommodation across the North West, denied the allegation claiming staff checked the room when it was approached by the Local Democracy Reporting Service. The team said no evidence of insects was identified.
Read the rest of the MEN piece here, and see RAPAR's press release about latest developments here.
“The deepening conditions of poverty in the UK are a human rights violation.” - Amnesty UK champions GRIPP’s message in their summer members magazine.
GRIPP takes the cover story of the Amnesty UK members magazine, to share our work and experiences as activists from across the UK demanding change.
Through interviews with Rahwa (from RAPAR), Patricia and Tracey, the article focuses on our work of researching, writing and presenting evidence to the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in March 2023.
GRIPP’s report revealed “how the UK government has created a system that keeps communities poor, ill, divided and isolated – and then blames them for the conditions they are living in.”
As one of the partners of GRIPP, Amnesty UK wanted to champion our work to its audience – challenging members to consider Human Rights violations at home and how Povertyism is systemic issue within the UK.
You can read the PDF of the full article from the Amnesty Magazine here.