Mental health experts warned that asylum seekers facing lockouts were at risk

A demonstration outside the Home Office building in Glasgow (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)

NHS specialists warned months ago that asylum seekers were attempting suicide after being locked out of their homes.

The warning can be revealed days after the company which was providing accommodation for asylum seekers in Glasgow began evicting them.

Yesterday, in the face of mounting criticism, Serco “paused” the programme until test cases go to court next week.

In January 2017, the House of Common’s home affairs committee on asylum accommodation included a written submission by the NHS Glasgow psychological trauma service.

In it, the organisation warned stressful living conditions for refugees in the city – many of whom had experienced trauma in their homelands – was compounding their mental health problems.

The organisation wrote: “There is some evidence to suggest that stressful conditions (eg insecure, poor quality, overcrowded etc) can increase stress, and reduce empowerment and control, which has been linked to mental health issues.

“It shows that the quality of housing provision generally can affect mental health.”

And the NHS specialists pinpointed changing the locks on asylum seeker’s homes had prompted self-harm.

The report said: “Concerns were raised that locks were apparently changed whilst clients were out of the house.

“In one incident, this resulted in increased distress and a suicide attempt in the context of the client being made destitute.”

Serco said it could no longer house 330 asylum seekers after their applications had been rejected and government funding for them had ended.

But it later emerged the cases of 100 affected refugees were ongoing and hadn’t been decided yet, forcing the firm to scale back its plans.

Campaigners criticised Serco’s stance claiming it was putting people’s lives in jeopardy.

Protestors gathered yesterday to burn the eviction notices.

More than 300 protestors joined two Afghani asylum seekers who are on hunger strike outside the Home Office’s HQ in Glasgow.

But, as the demo took place, Serco announced they were temporarily halting the lock-outs until a legal challenged mounted by Shelter Scotland on behalf of two asylum seekers is heard at Glasgow Sheriff Court this week.

Serco said it would “pause all further lock-change notices to other asylum seekers who have received negative decisions whilst the law is being tested and clarified”.

“This will also give stakeholders who support asylum seekers more time to prepare for what is likely to be an increase in the number of people seeking their help,” Serco said.

Glasgow City councillors have said they were not aware of the planned lock-outs although Serco says the issue of ongoing funding when asylum applications have failed has been raised at a number of meetings.

Serco won the tender to provide asylum seeker accommodation in 2012.