Healing a divided community

It is tempting to declare, in the aftermath of the murder of
Firsat Yildiz in Glasgow, that dispersal of asylum seekers is
simply wrong. Its effects have been overwhelmingly negative.

But there are important reasons why dispersal came about. Social
care professionals in London will recall the reopening of
unsuitable institutions and the lack of appropriate accommodation
and services.

It will not be easy to find an alternative, particularly in the
current media climate, and without investment in a group who cannot
– in the eyes of those who already live in deprivation – be seen to
get preferential treatment.

Nevertheless, our approach to asylum seekers must change. It
attaches stigma to everyone it touches, both asylum seekers and
“host” communities. Resources must follow asylum seekers when they
are dispersed, and must benefit the whole community.

There should be regeneration, and there is no reason why that
long-term, bottom-up initiative can’t tie in with dispersal –
except that dispersal right now is anything but long-term and
bottom-up, and isn’t seen by the government as part of its fight
for social inclusion.

If accommodation is too squalid for an asylum seeker, it’s too
squalid for anyone. If vouchers are degrading for us, they are
degrading for asylum seekers.

The racist impact of the situation in Glasgow results from
institutional racism, more than from individuals. A group of people
from ethnic minorities has been singled out by a system in which
they can’t work, use real money, or live where they choose. They
have been dumped in communities where work, money and choice are
scarce for everyone.

Both problems must be tackled to make dispersal anywhere near
justifiable, while a longer-term review takes place.

Do you have first-hand experience of dispersal? Do you have
a view on the issues raised here? Tell us what you think by
e-mailing us at:

Faltering start

It was a long, hard battle to obtain a regulatory body for
social care and hopes are high that the body will champion social
work values and stand up for an often beleaguered profession.

But the General Social Care Council has itself been beleaguered
and that’s before it even opens for business.

First there still is no permanent appointment as chairperson of
the council. Now it has emerged that more than one third of the
council’s members are Labour Party activists.

Will this make a difference to the codes of conduct and practice
which the group will produce? Will it make a difference to the
rulings of the council on registration and re-registration issues?

But that’s not the point. If this long-awaited body is perceived
to be close to the government or any agency, it will be weakened.
The GSCC must be, and must be seen to be, completely and utterly
independent. Its integrity is fundamental to the future of social
care and all who work within the service.

Therefore, the Commissioner for Public Appointments must examine
the appointments.

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