We are deeply saddened by the death of a member of our community in Glasgow.

All our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of the Syrian man who died in McLays Hotel in Glasgow last week.

We extend our condolences and support to everyone affected by this devastating loss. We encourage anyone struggling in isolation just now to call our helpline on 0141 223 7979 and we will do our best to help. This is devastating and deeply concerning news.

In light of this news, on Monday 11th May we set out a five point-plan which we urge the Home Office and Mears to adopt and implement immediately.

Nothing less will suffice now, especially after this tragedy.

Update 14/05: We have written to the Home Secretary urging her to take these required actions.

1. They must cooperate fully with the Scottish investigation of death process led by the Crown Office. The loved ones of the man must be contacted sensitively by the Home Office and fully involved. His loved ones must also be treated with dignity and respect.

2. They must publicly set out the steps they have taken or plan, to support those affected by this traumatic event, especially hotel residents as well as front-line workers.

3. Hundreds of people have been moved recently from either single occupancy or two-bedroom flat accommodation to hotels procured by Mears and the Home Office. The man is reported to have been in one of these flats before being moved to a hotel. The Home Office and Mears must explain, in a public statement

    • why they adopted this plan and how it was deemed compliant with public health instructions;
    • who precisely they consulted on this plan and when and in what terms; and
    • how they considered vulnerabilities before, during and after moving each of all those affected.

4. We understand that around 360 people are now housed across hotels in Glasgow. The Home Office and Mears must publicly set out the conditions in these hotels and the specific support available to people in them.

5. Mears must keep the promise they gave to the Home Affairs Committee on Thursday 7 May to work closely with Glasgow City Council and NGOs on transitioning out of the pandemic. The Home Office, under your direction, must also make this commitment  Destitution and homelessness are incompatible with the inclusive public health recovery we all need. Evicting people from any form of asylum accommodation this summer must be ruled out now.

We urge the Home Office and Mears to adopt these points today. In a crisis situation, all of us must work together to avoid additional tragedies, and we urge the Home Office and Mears to be open and collaborative in their response to this crisis.

Scottish Refugee Council stands ready to work and support refugee communities and all those affected by this awful event. Our priority is always the best interests of those seeking refugee protection, who are in Scotland, and those settled communities that have for years welcomed and support them.

You can call our helpline on 0141 223 7979.

Samaritans: 116 123

Breathing Space (Scotland): 0800 83 85 87

Chris Afuakwah
Author: Chris Afuakwah