The Glasgow Girls

The policy of detaining children for immigration purposes was ended by the UK coalition government in 2010.  The Glasgow Girls’ campaign played an important part in the decision to change the law. But just who are the Glasgow Girls?

Seven young activists for change. photo c Citizens TheatreGlasgow had previously seen an influx in asylum seekers due to the city council’s decision to sign a contract with UK border Agency’s dispersal programme – the only local authority in Scotland to do so.

By the end of 2001 Glasgow had 8000 new temporary citizens who had been moved there on a no choice basis. Around 80 per cent of the 8000 were families with children.

In 2005, Agnesa Murselaj, a 15 years old pupil at Drumchapel High School in Glasgow, was dawn raided and detained with her family. She could just have been another statistic but her school friends, many of them fellow asylum seekers, decided enough was enough. The Glasgow Girls were born.

Community activists for change

With the support of charities and community groups, the girls kept the detention and dawn raid issue on the political agenda. In Kingsway, where the girls lived, the community took direct action, establishing a look-out system and holding candle-lit vigils outside the tower blocks to prevent families being dawn raided.  Their determination raised awareness and brought about change:

  • In 2009 the Liberal Democrats made a manifesto commitment to ending child detention.
  • In May 2010 the new Coalition Government announced the end of detention of children for immigration purposes.

But there's still more to do...