Asylum accommodation provider Mears responds to end of hotel detention

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Housing provider ASYLUM Mears has countered claims by a coalition of charities calling for an end to what they call ‘hotel confinement’.

As reported in the Glasgow Times, the Roof Coalition has launched its End Hotel Detention campaign – demanding that asylum seekers be housed in communal accommodation.

The group, made up of housing, community, human rights and legal organisations, wants the Home Office and contractor Mears to improve living conditions.

A spokesman for Mears, which provides accommodation to asylum seekers on behalf of the Home Office, said it was working to reduce hotel use “wherever possible”.

They added that the safety and well-being of users of the service is of “utmost importance” to the company.

At the start of the first Covid lockdown in April 2020, hundreds of service users were moved from homes in accommodation such as serviced apartments and apartments to hotels.

But Mears said its staff, Resident Wellness Managers, are based at the hotels daily to support wellness and help with any issues or concerns.

People living in hotels described a lack of nutritious food and no access to cooking facilities to meet dietary or cultural requirements.

However, Mears said NHS Eatwell guidelines on nutritional content are used in the development of hotel menus, which vary daily and are reviewed and changed every three weeks.

Among a series of demands, the End Hotel Detention campaign is calling for adequate financial support for asylum seekers in Scotland.

It also calls for any changes to the regime for dispersing asylum seekers in the country to be made in consultation with the Scottish Government and relevant Scottish local authorities.

The Home Office said ‘expensive hotels’ were costing the British taxpayer £5m a day and that the new Nationality and Borders Act, currently before Parliament, would ‘fix the system broken down asylum”.

Sabir Zazai, CEO of the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “People who have escaped wars and other violent conflicts need a home, a base for stability and peace of mind.

“Temporary housing, including hotel rooms, can never provide that.

“Week after week, my colleagues see firsthand the damage that hotel rooms cause to individuals and families, from children facing barriers to accessing education to very serious damage to people’s mental health. ”

A spokesman for Mears said: “Due to the increase in the number of people seeking asylum and the lack of suitable accommodation, hotels are being used in emergencies by the Home Office across the country. UK including Scotland.

“Mears’ position is to provide accommodation in the community where possible and we will continue to work to reduce hotel use, as we have done in Glasgow.

“The safety and well-being of users of our services is of the utmost importance to Mears.

“We are continually reviewing our approach and processes to seek to provide the best accommodation and support to our service users and we work closely with all stakeholders including the Home Office, health authorities community, local councils and third sector bodies for this purpose.”

A Home Office spokesperson added: “Housing as asylum is not a decentralized policy.

“The Nationality and Borders Act will fix the broken asylum system across the UK which is costing the taxpayer almost £5million a day in expensive hotels.

“Asylum seekers are provided with safe and secure accommodation, ensuring no one is left destitute.

“Asylum seekers have access to health and social services upon arrival in the UK and all residents can access financial support while their asylum claim is being assessed.”

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