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City of Culture becomes City of Slavery with the help of the YMCA

Clarence Carlos | 18.05.2005 15:52 | Migration | Social Struggles | Birmingham | Cambridge | Liverpool | London | Oxford | South Coast

The Home Office have now ratcheted up the ante by re-introducing slavery through the form of 'voluntary service for people who have failed the Asylum System and needing subsistence and accommodation' with the assistance of the National YMCA Organisation.

Liverpool YMCA is going to be the first voluntary sector agency to collude with the Home Office in the immigration slavery scheme introduced by section 10 of the 2004 legislation.

While Liverpool is parading on its City Of Culture, 2008 Status (more like Culture of Capital, Here & Now), it would be worthwhile stating historical fact - Liverpool was home to the Slave Trade - and now in 2005, Liverpool could and may well become home to the New City Of Slavery.

The YMCA and the Home Office have called for a 'Closed Door' Meeting to be held at Liverpool City Councils Millenium House on Tuesday 24 May 2005 from 12:40 - 14:40hrs.

The aim of this meeting from what I can gather, is to 'embrace community dialogue' - through restricting the meeting to just a few (highly-paid & self-anointed) NGOs (whose own sources of revenue are probably paid for by the Home Office...)

The question is, can real community dialogue be achieved like this?

The meeting was posted on the SmartGroups Liverpool asylum seeker and refugee support group:

----Section 4 Support - 'Voluntary Service'

>> There is a consultation meeting with the YMCA and
>> the Home Office about this on 24th May - 12.40 - 2.40
>> at Millenium House in Liverpool.

As you can see this is the only outside knowledge of this meeting.

I contacted the Liverpool YMCA today which people believe to be the site of the Pilot Scheme, and the Office Administrator has denied any knowledge of the meeting, but said that, "if it's not Liverpool then it might be Chester which will do it."

If the meeting is being held within Council premises, can Trade Unionists based within Millenium House please make and take action with regards to this?

UNISON, and other Unions the call-out for you is here.

Individuals with a conscience, please make your views heard on this subject.

The following links are related to this meeting:

YMCA slave labour scheme

Section 4 Support - 'Voluntary Service'

There is a consultation meeting with the YMCA and the Home Office
about this on 24th May - 12.40 - 2.40 at Millenium House in Liverpool.

IND has announced that YMCA England will be running a pilot exercise for Section 10 of the Asylum & Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act in Liverpool.

Word document:

YMCA England Statement following meeting with Church Action on Poverty, Boaz Trust and Churches Commission on Racial Justice

Word document:

It is important that no-one allows this 'Pilot' to get off the ground.

While the YMCA may or could agree to the scheme, it can only be made unworkable if YMCA Staff take a stand on this issue - strike action, refuse on moral grounds, refuse on Health & Safety issues (will the refugees be given proper H&S training?)

Or perhaps I could 'release' the person out, if I saw a refugee doing what I called anything like 'labour'?

Or maybe, the homeless people within the YMCAs will start "getting refugees to do their 'dirty-work'", or cause deep divisions within already dis-enfranchised communities?

If this doesn't happen here, it could happen near YOU.

Maybe meet up at The Egg, Tuesday 24/05, 11:30am?

Anyone into it?

Banners, drums, trumpets, anything to make a party & noise.

Can the 'Outside Media' meaning The Echo/BBC do something on it?

The YMCA have given out this statement:

YMCA England Statement following meeting with Church Action on Poverty, Boaz Trust and Churches Commission on Racial Justice

5 May 2005

YMCA England is the preferred provider to deliver a local pilot programme of community activities for failed asylum seekers who are receipt of section 4 support under the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act.

The YMCA England pilot scheme will provide a relatively small number of young asylum seekers, whose applications have been refused but at present can’t return to their country of origin, with a chance to take part in a wide range of meaningful training and community activities that will match their interests and needs.

The YMCA is well placed to carry out this initiative. The YMCA currently works with asylum seekers in over 20 locations around the country. The YMCA is also already working with a large number of failed asylum seekers through a contract with NASS to provide accommodation to around 150 section 4 recipients.

>From this existing work with asylum seekers we know that boredom and inactivity is a major concern that can cause distress or even mental health problems. We believe this practical initiative can help address this issue.

Activities that the failed asylum seekers can become involved in will be diverse and are intended to provide them with a wide range of options that meet their individual needs and interests. Failed asylum seekers will be able to choose which activities suit them best, and will also be able to change activities if they are unhappy or ill-suited. No individual will be required to carry out any specific activity against their will.

Examples could include activities in Day Centres, for homeless people, the elderly and especially those which are aimed at ethnic community groups of which the failed asylum seeker is a member. Likewise, assistance with environmental projects could be suitable.

The YMCA is also committed to providing a range of training that will assist both while the failed asylum seekers are in the UK, but also for their future in their country of origin. Most YMCAs have an IT suite, some are registered as Learn Direct Centres and others have links with YMCA Training Centres. An example of training could include helping failed asylum seekers learn English or IT skills alongside their placement.

YMCA England acknowledges that concerns have been expressed about the initiative and in particular the requirement that qualifying failed asylum seekers must participate in community activities.

The legislation does state that those failed asylum seekers who qualify will be required to participate in community activities. There will however be a number of safeguards in place to ensure that failed asylum seekers with physical and mental disabilities are not required to take part. Likewise the elderly, minors, women with direct responsibilities for young children, or those with wider caring responsibilities, will not be involved. The YMCA is committed to ensuring that these safeguards are upheld.

The YMCA is also committed to the following:

· If the YMCA comes to the view that the initiative is deliberately making asylum seekers destitute then the YMCA will reconsider its involvement.

· The YMCA will try to ensure that the section 4 recipients who participate receive the maximum benefits possible such as free training, meals while working and travel costs.

· The YMCA is committed to having the pilot independently evaluated.

· The evaluation will be made public and shared with relevant agencies.

· The YMCA will monitor media surrounding the pilot to try to ensure that balanced views on the project are put forward.

· The YMCA will use its own international network to endeavour to provide assistance to any section 4 recipients who are deported and will also use the international network of the Jesuit Refugee Service and other similar groups.

· The YMCA will offer to put section 4 recipients in touch with asylum advocacy groups.

· The YMCA is not committed to rolling out a national project. The YMCA’s further engagement will be dependent upon the pilot being a positive experience for the section 4 recipients involved.

Under the draft agreement with the Home Office, the YMCA’s ability comment about government policy on asylum is also expressly protected by the Voluntary Sector Compact.

While the YMCA fully supports the pilot scheme, there are areas of asylum policy that the YMCA will continue to be outspoken on. In particular, the YMCA believes section 4 recipients should have a choice – either to gain paid employment, undertake unpaid community activities and receive support or to undertake training or education and receive support. This would be similar to the New Deal regime that British young people are subject to. Likewise, the YMCA will attempt to ensure that it is an automatic right for section 4 recipient to have their HC2 renewed to continue their right to access medical services.

We believe this pilot scheme will be of real benefit to failed asylum seekers and the community they are a part of.'


Clarence Carlos


Display the following 2 comments

  1. not slavery — cedric
  2. Not slavery? — Jack