Socialist Worker

Asylum seeker speaks out - 'G4S treat you like luggage, they have no respect for you'

An asylum seeker has defied harassment to score a major housing victory over G4S and its local subcontractor, writes John Grayson

Issue No. 2354

The bathroom floor in the filthy flat Angela was moved to

The bathroom floor in the filthy flat Angela was moved to (Pic: John Grayson)


An asylum seeker in Leeds has twice taken on multinational G4S and its local housing subcontractor Cascade—and won.

G4S took responsibility for housing asylum seekers in the region in June 2012. 

After being moved twice Angela has now been moved to somewhere where she and her young child are comfortable.

Her problems began last December when Cascade moved Angela from a Leeds council flat into a filthy, damp house. She even found a cockroach in her baby’s bottle. Also she was racially harassed.

The move took her away from her support network of the people she knew and the church she attended. Angela contacted asylum rights campaigners, who involved the press and local councillors. 

Council officials declared the house unfit for habitation and Cascade moved Angela again—into a suitable property. Leeds city council demanded that all Cascade properties used in Leeds be vetted.

The scandal forced the Home Office to suspend Cascade from any new contracts. 

Yet Angela’s housing nightmare continued. G4S “social cohesion manager” Duncan Wells rang on 1 May to say that Angela had to move again.

Miles

She was told she had to go to Pudsey, miles away from her support and her son’s nursery.

She told campaigners, “G4S treat you like luggage, they show no respect for asylum seekers.”

Angela refused to move. It was only then that she opened a rent demand letter and discovered that Cascade owed the landlord £1,634 in back rent.

None of this was down to Angela, and most had been run up before she was moved in. But instead of paying, G4S harassed Angela to move. 

But campaigning forced Cascade to find Angela another property near her support. Her confidence was boosted when she got a letter saying that the Home Office granted her refugee status.

Angela and other asylum seeker tenants’ evidence will be heard by the Parliamentary Home Affairs committee investigating G4S asylum housing contracts in June.

She said, “Asylum seekers have the right to be treated as human beings. We do not want G4S prison guards as landlords.” 

Angela’s name has been changed to protect her identity. John Grayson is a researcher and adult educator. He teaches at Sheffield Hallam University

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