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'GROWING MISERY OF ASYLUM SEEKERS IGNORED BY NASS'

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Asylum seekers face increasing uncertainty over their futures as a result of ...
Asylum seekers face increasing uncertainty over their futures as a result of

the National Asylum Support Service (NASS), which administers the

government's dispersal programme. Positive Action in Housing has highlighted

the problems with NASS, in particular their failure to respond to serious

cases of racial harassment, and the length of time it takes to deal with

urgent cases. This apparent inefficiency has a severe impact on the lives of

asylum seekers who are suffering from racist abuse on a daily basis.

Adrian Lui, project co-ordinator, who is responsible for the casework

service at Positive Action in Housing, said,

'Around 90% of our asylum seeker clients want to be rehoused away from their

current accommodation, as they are being subjected to verbal racist abuse on

a daily basis, and physical attack in some cases. They live in fear and are

afraid to leave their homes. We advocate on their behalf and try to work

with NASS to resolve the problems faced by our clients. We write strong

letters outlining the client's predicament and try to include evidence such

as police and medical reports. However, the majority of correspondence is

not acknowledged or answered. Their overall response rate is extremely slow

compared with some local authorities that we work with. We often get replies

within two weeks form the councils; for us to receive anything within the

same time from NASS is a rarity'.

He added: 'I am disappointed with NASS - they appear to be a very unwieldy

organisation, reminiscent of a call centre - they deal with numbers and seem

to have no emotional attachment to their duty of dealing with asylum

seekers.

'When one of our caseworkers was making an enquiry about a client's case,

after numerous telephone calls and faxes, she was told by a member of staff

at NASS that he didn't have time to look at individual cases.'

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing said: 'The

bureaucracy of the immigration system is trivialising genuine human

suffering. All of these problems are a symptom of an inhumane no-choice

dispersal system which must be dismantled. Asylum seekers must be given the

choice about where they are located in the UK and the government must unlock

access to housing associations and local authority accommodation to ensure

genuine dispersal.'

Notes

Recent Casework Statistics:

Cases opened between April to July 2001

* 43 new cases between April and July 2001

* 37% of these clients live in the G21 postcode area, Springburn and

Sighthill, where the majority of asylum seekers in Glasgow are housed

* 49% of cases opened were asylum seekers during this period, compared to

around 27% during 8 months previous to April 2001

* 44% of clients who used the service during this time spoke no English or

had only a basic knowledge of English

* 42% of clients cited racial harassment as their main problem; 63% of these

were asylum seekers.

* The ethnic group of clients was diverse; although Pakistani (9) and

Chinese (6)continue to be the largest groups using the service, there are

increasing numbers of clients from other groups e.g. Iranian and Palestinian

* 34% of clients were referred by word of mouth and 33% were referred by

other BME organisations

* 34% of clients were single parents, 28% were couples with children

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