Union attacks government over its plans for accommodation centres

The Transport and General Workers Union has attacked the
government’s plans for asylum seeker accommodation centres, saying
they will create an unworkable “parallel universe” where residents
will remain separated from society.

TGWU general secretary Bill Morris made the comments at the launch
last week of an independent report into accommodation centres.
Asylum City highlights issues, including levels of
resourcing and service provision for education, health and social
care, that need addressing.

The report, written by the New Policy Institute for the Asylum
Coalition, which is made up of charities and unions, adds weight to
the TGWU’s concerns that the proposals are being implemented
without full and proper consideration of the economic and social

It says that asylum seekers need more mental health services than
the rest of the population, because they suffer high levels of
psychological stress. Cultural differences may mean that normal
treatment methods may be inappropriate for asylum seekers.

It also recommends special arrangements be put in place for primary
health care, including multi-disciplinary mental health services
ranging from psychologists to social workers and services covering
specialist areas such as sexual health.

But the report raises many unanswered questions such as whether
children will be educated in mixed-year classes, how centres will
cater for residents’ dietary and cultural needs and how residents
will occupy their day.

The TGWU believes the plans to educate children of asylum seekers
separately from children in mainstream schools is “the most graphic
example of discrimination in this policy”.

Morris said: “In terms of the resources and the professionals
required to sustain even a basic level of care and support, the
proposals are impractical.”

Meanwhile, Save the Children Scotland has called on the government
to rethink its proposals for segregated education for young asylum
seekers, after a jointly commissioned report with Glasgow Council
found schooling was often their lifeline.

Starting Again…Young Asylum Seekers’ Views on Life in
, found school was an invaluable aid to proper
integration and helped tackle racism in the city.

A high percentage of the 700 children questioned said they felt
safe and supported at school. Many had experienced bullying, racism
and the effects of drug and alcohol abuse in their adopted

The report calls for initiatives to deal with racial tension and to
help newcomers integrate into communities, as well as an advice
line to help children deal with difficulties connected to the

Asylum City can be obtained from pdoyle@tgwu.org.uk
 Starting Again from 0131 527 8207.

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