A heavily pregnant asylum seeker was removed from her house by a company working for security company G4S despite them knowing that she was being induced to give birth on the same day, The Independent has learnt.
Target Housing, a sub-contractor working under G4S to house asylum seekers, was set to move the unidentified young woman in Rotherham two weeks after her due date in August this year.
However, she did not give birth on her due date, and two weeks later doctors at Rotherham General Hospital had decided there was a risk to the baby if she did not go into labour. An appointment was made to induce the birth, which happened to fall on the same day as the woman – an Eastern European who was alone in the UK – was supposed to leave her property.
Management at Target were apparently made aware of the situation but did not alter her removal date. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) provides money to G4S to house asylum seekers, but this runs out 28 days after leave to remain is granted, which it had been in this case.
Speaking to The Independent, the housing support worker involved in the case, who has since left Target, described the removal of the woman as “an eviction” and said the situation was “shocking but not surprising”. She said she felt there was a general culture of putting profit before the needs of individuals in the asylum housing system.
“She was very worried and very scared,” the support worker said. “It was a really stressful thing for her to go through, but she just accepted that that was what was going to happen.”
She said she raised her concerns with managers and that other agency workers had asked if the date could be changed, but claims the company indicated that the birth date wasn’t viewed as a cause for concern.
The pregnant woman, who had been living on a subsistence allowance of around £5 a day, was initially expected to move to her new property and get to the hospital by herself, the support worker claimed. The hospital was more than a mile away. The support worker said she had to argue with her managers to be allowed to assist the woman, and eventually moved her to her new property before taking her to the hospital, where she gave birth.
The contract to house asylum seekers in Yorkshire & Humberside, worth £135m, was awarded to G4S in March. A G4S spokesman said: “Neither G4S or our subcontractors can remove an individual from their housing without the prior approval of UKBA. In this case, after this person was given leave to remain by UKBA, our sub-contractor worked with the local authority to arrange suitable accommodation. The decision on when the move should take place was made through a multi-agency framework, including the lady’s midwife and the local authority.
“Our subcontractor provided support and care to this individual over many weeks, including arranging for her belongings to be moved to the new property while she was in hospital. We have not received any complaints from either the individual, or any of the agencies involved, concerning the standard of support that G4S and our subcontractor provided.”
Target declined to add anything to what G4S told The Independent, but a UKBA spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases, however we treat everyone in our care with dignity and respect and we expect the same from our housing providers.”
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