Asylum seeker houses 'unfit for children'

Two single mothers told a cross-party group of MPs and Peers that the state of their accommodation, frequent moves and the attitude of the private housing providers left them feeling degraded and depressed

Housing provided to asylum seeker families is unfit for children, a Parliamentary inquiry has been told.

Two single mothers housed in the north-East told a cross-party group of MPs and Peers that the state of their accommodation, frequent moves and the attitude of the private housing providers left them feeling degraded and depressed.

The women were giving evidence to an inquiry examining whether the Home Secretary’s statutory duty to safeguard and promote children’s welfare, which came into force in 2009, is being met.

The housing in the North-east is provided by the security company G4S, which won two of the six lucrative UK Border Agency contracts to house asylum seekers earlier this year.

The Independent today revealed that G4S had failed to meet its contractual obligation to re-house asylum seekers in Yorkshire by 12 November, and people had been rushed into squalid properties as the deadline approached.

Both young women described frequent incidents of workmen from the local housing provider Jomast – which G4S sub-contracts – letting themselves in to flats unannounced, without prior warning.

Cha Matty, 31, from Zimbabwe, was dispersed from London to an asylum seekers hostel for mothers and babies last year – two weeks before she gave birth to her daughter.

“There are many occasions where male staff have peaked at me in the bathroom and bedroom, they just barge in, they don’t respect you.

“G4S promised us in a meeting five months ago that they would get rid of this hostel, but we are still there. 30 women and 38 children all living in single rooms, with no space for my daughter to walk or play,” she told The Independent.

She has asked several times for a stair guard to be installed since her daughter started to crawl because it is “an accident waiting to happen”, the inquiry heard.

Jane, 31, from Russia, has just moved her six-year-old son into his third school after she was unexpectedly moved from a two bedroom flat to a one bedroom on the grounds it was too big for them.

“My child is growing up, he feels what I feel, he experiences what I experience… Families should not be constantly moved to different towns and cities; it extremely affects education and mental health.”

She added: “I understand that Jomast has to do repairs, but they don’t knock the door, they have keys so they just enter the property, they absolutely ignore people living there… this has happened to me so many times… it is disgusting.”

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society which is supporting the inquiry, said these experiences were not uncommon.

“We work with children and families in the asylum system every day who are living in terrible conditions. This very often has a huge impact on their health and welfare… many have fled violence and persecution in their own country."

Stephen Monk from Jomast said the hostel in Stockton-on-Tees was fully compliant with standards, inspected regularly and there was sufficient space for children to play.

He added: “Key workers do not enter accommodation without reasonable warning. All staff have enhanced CRB checks and are fully trained.”

A G4S spokesman said it would look into all the individual complaints and many customers could expect to see improvements in their accommodation in the coming weeks as historic housing stocks were reviewed.    

The inquiry’s report will be published early next year.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recruitment Consultant - IT

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Computer Futures has been est...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Business Analyst

£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Job Title: Business Analyst Rate: £300 - £350 per...

C# .NET Developer

£290 - £291 per day + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Manchester C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform