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A week of action against the hostile environment

Sheffield Against Asylum Evictions and South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group recently organised five days of action to highlight housing issues facing migrants.

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South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group.

Over the past week, local groups Sheffield Against Asylum Evictions (SAAE) and South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG) have coordinated a week of action alongside other migrant campaigners which highlighted the effects of the 'hostile environment', in particular the conditions of asylum housing and the role of private contractors.

The collaboration involved groups like Glasgow’s No Evictions Network and Newcastle’s Migration and Asylum Justice Forum.

The week kicked off on 1 April with the launch of a spoof website called Asylum Landlords, which is laid out as if it’s an estate agents’ site but highlights the very serious conditions of each accommodation listed. The site also includes testimonies from migrants who have lived and experienced asylum housing.

“The idea with this site, and most of the week’s actions, was to spread the word as far as possible on social media, so that people are aware of the reality of asylum and migrant housing,” James Harrison, an organiser with SAAE, told Now Then.

The following day’s action involved a banner drop over the Park Square roundabout in the Sheffield city centre. The banner read: "Demand dignified asylum housing, people not profit." Glasgow’s banner - "End hotel detention" - was dropped later in the day, with this messaging echoed across social media posts of people holding up similar signs.

SAAE banner drop
Sheffield Against Asylum Evictions.

The weekend (3-4 April) saw SAAE and SYMAAG stage a protest on Devonshire Green for safe and dignified asylum housing on the Saturday, while Glasgow planted a tree as part of a vigil in memory of Adnan Walid Elbi, Badreddin Abedlla Adam and Mercy Baguma, who died last year whilst in the care of private housing provider Mears Group and the Home Office.

Monday saw the final day of action. This came in the form of a Twitter storm, with campaigners encouraging people to tweet the Home Office, Mears and Serco.

Of this week of action, Harrison says, “We wanted to make people aware of both the issues that many people face when it comes to housing, but also that there are groups across the country who are collaborating against the hostile environment.

“We’re hoping to get people from more cities involved with this work, so that we can look at what we can all do together in the long-term.”

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