Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Seeking support of the First Minister

I have had a question accepted for First Minister's Questions tomorrow on the matter of the UKBA cancelling their contract with Glasgow City Council to support and house asylum seekers. You can watch it LIVE on BBC2 on Thursday or you can watch it online at I wrote about it earlier in the week and said how shocked I was at the way they were being treated.

It's a matter for the British Government, the UKBA is one of their agencies and the First Minister has no say in the matter, whilst we're still controlled by the UK.

However I am hoping to get his support to put pressure on the British Government to sort it out. And I also think it's important that asylum seekers and refugees in this country hear its First Minister tell them they are welcome here because the UKBA certainly doesn't make them feel like that!

It was just supposed to be a question but as nearly always happens with me, I come up with an idea, then another, then another and before you know it one little question has grown arms and legs and I've created a monster.

On this occasion it's a monster worth creating. What's happening is that a bus load of people are now coming through to Edinburgh, I've managed to get tickets for 15 of them to get into First Minister's Questions and I have a meeting room booked for 25 of them to meet with MSPs afterwards. It will be very informal but it allows them to talk to their elected representatives about what it's like being an asylum seeker in this country and particularly about this recent development.

One woman told me when she got that letter saying she was being moved to an as yet unknown location in Scotland and would be given 3 to 5 days' notice to pack a maximum of 2 suitcases and leave everything (and everyone) else behind, she decided to give up. She said she just felt like lying on the ground and saying "do what you're going to do but do it quick". That's shocking and I know MSPs will want to hear about the effect this move has had on human beings we're supposed to be protecting.

The photo is of a wee girl from Cranhill (I went to their drop in service on Monday night to try to offer some reassurance) and this is the artwork her mum produced - nice home eh?

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