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Our system for housing asylum seekers is failing, we must do better

The system for accommodating asylum seekers in the UK is not working. That is the stark conclusion of the Home Affairs Committee’s report into Asylum Accommodation. It is not working for asylum seekers, who have endured ‘shameful’ conditions and poor treatment at the hands of private accommodation providers. It is not working for the communities in which asylum seekers are accommodated, as diminished resources have f
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Home Affairs Committee report on asylum accommodation

The Home Affairs Committee today published their report into the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers in the UK. The report is a damning account of a system that is both in crisis, and suffering from significant structural flaws. It builds on a series of previous investigations into the COMPASS contracts and the standards of accommodation being provided through them, and on recent scandals around the marking
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A new project on refugee wellbeing and inclusion in urban public space

I’m pleased to announce that from February I’ll be working on a new project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The project is designed as an impact and engagement focused scheme of work to examine how refugees in Europe engage with open public space. The work is a collaboration between myself, Clare Rishbeth (University of Sheffield), Radhika Bynon (The Young Foundation), and Minor – a refugee
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Refugee policy for 2017

To mark the start of the year, the policy@manchester team asked myself and Gulwali Passarlay to write an opinion piece looking back on refugee issues in 2016, and forward to what constructive changes might be made in refugee policy in 2017. Gulwali is a politics graduate from the University of Manchester who came to the UK aged 13 as an Afghan refugee. He’s also the author of The Lightless Sky, an account of his expe
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Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers (NICRAS) report on asylum seeker housing conditions

Towards the end of last year I was invited to Belfast to take part in the launch of a report into asylum seeker housing in Northern Ireland, put together by the Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers (NICRAS). NICRAS is the only refugee and asylum seeker led organisation in Northern Ireland, it works for the benefit of refugees and asylum seekers by providing advice, support, and a community for th
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New publications, policy blogs, and press coverage

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to update this blog and website with the developments of the project. The turn of the year seemed a good opportunity to do so and as a result the website has had various updates and further details added that might be of interest. Firstly, I’ve added a Research Findings page to the site, which includes links to some of the initial findings emerging from the project. He
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Open Democracy and urban responses to the refugee crisis

A couple of months back I wrote a short piece for Open Democracy, looking at how cities might offer a response to the European refugee crisis, available here. Partly, the argument is a response to a lack of discussion of how urban politics and policies will be central to refugee resettlement practices in many countries, and partly it reflects a response to the manifesto for urban asylum policy put forward by the EURO
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Reflections on fieldwork and the AAG conference – borders, austerity, subjectivities

The last month has been busy with the completion of the main bulk of fieldwork for the Producing Urban Asylum project, and a trip to Chicago to attend the Association of American Geographers conference. Here’s a brief update and some reflections on the conference. In terms of progress on the project, I completed the last round of interviews in Birmingham and Glasgow in March, speaking with a number of asylum seekers
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Asylum dispersals in the news

Issues of asylum dispersal and the COMPASS model of asylum accommodation have hit the news agenda over the last week in two ways. Firstly, the BBC Radio 4 documentary series ‘File on 4’ (available here) ran an investigation into the dispersal system and how it has changed with COMPASS that was aired on Tuesday night. The programme featured interviews with local authority representatives in the North West, support ser
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Scottish Refugee Council report on asylum accommodation in Scotland

I’ve recently been reading the Scottish Refugee Council report on the extent of asylum accommodation problems in Scotland published towards the end of last year. The report, available here, is based on accommodation problems reported to the Scottish Refugee Council’s ‘One Stop Shop’ between February 2013 and February 2014, along with focus groups held with asylum seekers in Glasgow. It finds that during this period m
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