Coloured wristbands for asylum seekers symptomatic of wider housing problem

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The scandal of asylum seekers in Cardiff being forced to wear coloured wristbands that expose them to harassment and abuse has been strongly condemned by Scottish Refugee Council as ‘stigmatising and offensive’.

It’s the latest controversy that follows the ‘red door’ row in Middlesbrough.

According to The Guardian, newly arrived asylum seekers in Cardiff who are housed by Clearsprings Ready Homes, a private firm contracted by the Home Office, are being told they must wear the wristbands at all a times otherwise they will not be fed.

The wristbands entitle the asylum seekers, who cannot work and are not given money, to three meals a day. Wearing one gives the right to meals at Lynx House, a hostel where asylum seekers are first accommodated before being allocated homes in the city.

Those asked to wear the wristbands in Wales said they have been taunted by passing drivers and subjected to catcalls.

The wristband controversy follows the news that asylum seekers in Middlesbrough had complained their houses were targeted after people realised all front doors were painted the same colour red by the private firm responsible for housing them, G4S.

Policy officer Graham O’Neill said: “The stigmatising and offensive requirements of wristbands to get food entitlement that have been placed on newly dispersed asylum seekers at the Lynx hotel is but the latest in a long line of neglect in accommodation and services by the non-specialist firms, Clearel, Serco and G4S, of those seeking protection.

“The red doors and wristbands scandals reflect a complete lack of empathy for asylum seekers, who are ordinary women, men and children in extraordinary predicaments.

“While we are not aware of these particular issues in Scotland, we are dealing with a series of problems around how people seeking asylum are accommodated in Scotland, from poor standards to poor treatment and putting strangers in shared accommodation, thus putting women and children in particular at risk.

“The red doors and wristband incidents are symptomatic of the Home Office’s poor oversight of private contractors housing vulnerable people. We have grave concerns about the adequacy of oversight across the UK including in Scotland and believe it is time for a fundamental, independent UK–wide review of these contracts.”