The Home Office’s change of Aspen card provider last week has left countless numbers of people without food, money or basic supplies.

The change of supplier involved a temporary blackout period when Aspen cards – the debit card most people in the asylum system rely on to buy food and essentials – stopped working last weekend. The Home Office told charities this would be fixed by Monday morning. But since then we have had almost 90 people call our advisers in distress and despair that their cards do not work.

Wafa Shaheen, our Head of Integration said: “This situation is an absolute disgrace. There is no excuse to leave people without food, money or the means to buy basic living essentials. Our staff and many others from charities across Glasgow have worked non stop this week to try to arrange emergency support for people in immediate need.

“People are contacting us saying they have not received their replacement cards. Others have received cards that don’t work, or don’t have money loaded onto them. This includes a large number of families and children.

“This is an absolutely unnecessary and completely avoidable crisis. The situation should have been foreseen, risk assessed and planned and managed properly to avoid leaving people destitute. It’s inexcusable to put people at risk in this way as a result of poor planning and administrative errors from  companies paid public money to carry out Home Office duties.”

Along with the destitution and asylum teams at Scottish Refugee Council, charities across Glasgow and elsewhere in the UK are reporting the same problems and helping people in immediate need.

If you are affected by this please call our helpline: 0808 1967 274

Migrant Help helpline: 0808 8010 503

Or contact your MEARS housing officer.

Info on community groups supporting refugees in Scotland:

Pauline D
Author: Pauline D