SERCO is the provider for many services used by the UK Government; detention centres, prisons, weaponry, border security- to name a few. Ironically, it is also the private company that is meant to provide vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers with safe housing in some parts of the UK. In Greater Manchester, this is the case. They have a contract from the Home Office, and yet, the accommodation that they provide is unsafe, and unfit for living in.
Some of the longstanding, serious issues with SERCO accommodation are; over-crowding, pest issues, a lack of privacy, and failure to carry out repairs. All of these contribute to tenants feeling unsafe in their housing, and affect their health, psychological and emotional wellbeing. Considering they were given a contract by the Home Office, they should be more than able to provide good housing. It should be clean, without need for repairs, wherein tenants feel safe and at home. This is not the case.
Many asylum seekers and refugees in SERCO housing are living in horrific conditions, including houses with broken boilers, mould and water leaks. SERCO are currently failing to carry out necessary repairs, therefore putting the tenant’s health at risk. Many of these accommodations have pest infestations, such as mice and rats. There have also been massive issues with overcrowding, wherein accommodation with space for only a few people, is being used to house many. Further, SERCO are notoriously difficult to contact, with asylum seekers and refugees waiting on the phone for hours on end, and their issues neither being resolved nor acknowledged once they do get through.
There have been other campaigns such as ours in the UK, like those in Scotland. They were able to oust SERCO from the responsibility of accommodating vulnerable people in the country, and we wish to do the same for Greater Manchester.
Our aim is for SERCO to no longer be providers of asylum seeker and refugee housing in the area of Greater Manchester. This responsibility and funding should to go either to local authorities, or organisations that have shown they can provide adequate housing and accommodation. We hope to make asylum seekers and refugees feel that they are protected and healthy in the accommodation they are given. They have been through enough, let's make their housing a safe home.