UK

Rodents, Bedbugs, Mould: UK Asylum Housing Still a Hostile Environment

Mothers with babies in a Manchester hostel run by Serco have shown us their dirty and dangerous living conditions. Shadow immigration minister and local MP Afzal Khan has told us: “Nobody, let alone families with children, should be forced to live with cockroaches, bed bugs, damp, leaks and mice. Unfortunately, we know that this is not an isolated case. Our asylum accommodation system is not fit for purpose.” Last week I visited the ground floor and basement of the hostel that is home to three mothers and three children. One mother, Carole, showed me the damp basement where she lived with Nathan, her 11-month-old son. She showed me water gathered by the dehumidifier that she had bought.  She said Nathan is asthmatic and showed me bedbug bites on his arms. “I have them too, Serco said they could not find them, but they did not change the mattress — just put plastic on it.” That looked to me unsafe, and a suffocation risk.

Last week I sent a detailed report and photographs to Serco company spokesman Marcus De Ville. He replied: “We are confident that in the vast majority of cases we are providing appropriate housing for asylum seekers but we are not complacent and we always want to look into any issues or concerns that are raised. We are now doing this with this property and I will get back to you in the near future.”

I sent the same evidence to local MP and shadow immigration minister Afzal Khan. He replied: “The description of conditions in this house is shocking. Nobody, let alone families with children, should be forced to live with cockroaches, bed bugs, damp, leaks and mice. Unfortunately, we know that this is not an isolated case. Our asylum accommodation system is not fit for purpose. It is unacceptable that in 21st century Britain, people fleeing war and persecution are routinely housed in appalling and at times unsafe conditions.”

Read more: John Grayson, Open Democracy, https://is.gd/U2YGXX

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