Asylum accommodation on the agenda

Housing conditions faced by asylum seekers in the UK were branded a ‘disgrace’ this week in a report from MPs.

The UK Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee published its findings following an inquiry into asylum accommodation.

It is an issue we have been following closely as a result of our work with an increasing number of asylum seekers in Glasgow who are living with HIV.

In a written submission to the Committee’s inquiry, we highlighted examples where the conduct of housing providers inadvertently had a negative impact on service users. These included cases where changed locks left people unable to access their HIV medication for a prolonged period and where there was a risk that HIV status would be shared without permission.

The conduct of housing providers is just one aspect of the challenges that the immigration process has on individuals living with HIV. Our African Health Project works with a large number of asylum seekers, many of whom have had their cases refused. In these cases, support is often withdrawn leaving individuals at risk of homelessness and poverty – with significant implications for physical and mental health and wellbeing.

In its report, the Home Affairs Committee has made a number of recommendations linked to the wellbeing of asylum seekers. Among them is a demand that more should be done by providers to meet the needs of vulnerable individuals and that the wellbeing of asylum seekers be considered as part of inspections.

The report’s recommendations are a welcome intervention in the debate over how we can improve accommodation for asylum seekers. The challenge now is how the UK Government will respond.

We will be continuing to keep a close eye on developments and will be raising our concerns and experiences with elected representatives at a national and local level.