Glasgow: Mears Group Evades Responsibility as Asylum-Seekers in Hotels Refuse Food and Call for Protest Action

Over twenty asylum-seeking individuals forcibly moved by the Mears group into cramped hotel accommodation in Glasgow have been refusing to eat the mouldy, undercooked and culturally inappropriate food that Mears provides and are calling for action to protest the Mears group’s abysmal, dehumanising treatment of people they receive public money to provide safe accommodation for.

At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, people seeking asylum in Glasgow were forcibly moved with little notice into unsafe hotel accommodation where social distancing is impossible. These hotels are essentially functioning as detention centres: their dignity, freedom and financial support curtailed by the Home Office contractor Mears, asylum-seekers imprisoned in the hotels are unable to access mental or physical healthcare, sanitary items, and other basic necessities.

In a statement to the Refugee Council, Mears directly refutes multiple asylum-seeker testimonies, claiming that “by providing three meals a day, and all essential items directly, asylum seekers are being provided with a ‘full board’ arrangement’.” The complaints about what they are actually being served – rotten fruit, snack food, uncooked meat and mouldy bread – asylum-seekers have been responded to with threats that any dissent will adversely affect their asylum claim and right to stay in the country.

Someone living in the hotels reported, “Many of us are only drinking water mixed with sugar instead of the food. Staff in the hotel are threatening us and stopping others from joining with the threats. They tell us if we don’t like it: don’t eat it.”

Despite alleged intimidation from hotel staff, there are a group of over 20 people in the hotels refusing to eat the stale, undercooked and culturally inappropriate food that Mears provide, and calling for protest action to demand an immediate improvement in conditions, reinstatement of financial support and end to the hotel detention, this today, Saturday 13 June.

These demands have been put to Mears repeatedly since the situation first arose in April and have been met with dismissal, attempts to evade responsibility and outright lies, even following the death of Adnan Olbeh, a young man who was refusing the inacceptable food provided by Mears at the time of his death in hotel detention in April.

On Wednesday 17 June at 6pm, there will be a socially distanced demonstration at St. George’s Square in Glasgow. On Saturday 13 June you can participate in a day of online solidarity and action:

  • Make a banner or poster to amplify the key demands of those forcibly detained in the hotels. You can use to following slogans:
    AN IMMEDIATE CHANGE TO FOOD IN THE HOTEL
    REINSTATEMENT OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT
    END HOTEL DETENTION – PROVIDE SAFE ACCOMMODATION
  • Take a photo/video your banner (with or without yourself) and tweet it @mearsgroup @Juliaunwin (Mears Board of Directors), @PritiPatel @ukhomeoffice. Use the hashtag #endhoteldetention

Photo: Glasgow No Evictions Campaign