Last weekend the Wyndford Resident’s Union, alongside the Scottish Tenant’s Organisation, hosted a demonstration at the Muthu Glasgow River Hotel in Erskine - where 200 asylum seekers currently reside - to show they had a potential solution to the controversial hotel accomodation.
Some members of the local community have taken issue with Home Office’s placement of the asylum seekers in their town - fearing for the impact it will have on the areas already stretched social-services. Another seperate group, has also taken offence to the asylum seekers presence, motivated by racist social media rumours which local councillors have branded ‘baseless’ and ‘offensive’.
The first asylum seekers were placed in the Renfrewshire hotel at the start of this year - the controversy quickly escalated, with protest groups forming outside the Erskine hotel almost every weekend since the Asylum seekers began to arrive.
However, one Glasgow tenant’s union believe they have the solution to the problem which they claim could benefit everyone involved. Wyndford Resident’s Union hope to welcome the asylum seekers in Erskine Hotel to some of the 500 empty flats currently lying unused in the Wyndford Towers near Maryhill - the only catch is they’ve been marked for demolition within the next five years.
The Wyndford tenant’s have been fighting Wheatley Homes decision to demolish the tower for the last year - which has been reported on extensively by local and national media outlets alike. To read more on the Wyndford Resident’s Unions fight to save their towers, check out GlasgowWorld’s explainer article.
The union believes the one-bedroom and studio flats are well-suited to host some of the 3,000 Ukrainian refugees the Scottish Government has pledged to house in the country. The Wyndford Union worked with a Glaswegian Ukrainian support group to help organise their campaign - which they believe would allow refugees to live independently in a safe space where they could remain connected and close-by to essential services.
Housing for refugees in the West of Scotland is more essential than ever, as the MS ambition docked in Braehead still holds several hundred refugees who will soon become unhoused when the contract with the ship ends at the end of this month, March 31.
Speaking down a megaphone at the demonstration on Sunday, March 12, member of Wyndford Resident’s Union Laura Jones said:”Wheatley Homes are trying to demolish 600 social homes in the wyndford. Our community has been fighting this proposal for the last year.
“What we are proposing here today instead of sticking people in hotels, leaving them their for months on their own, we start using the empty flats lying across this city and use them to house our homeless people and our refugees.
“We all need homes, we need to put a stop to the policy of demolishing social housing in this city, we need to start building social houses and making empty flats avaliable like the Scottish Government promised to do.
“So we are calling on Neil Gray to meet with us, residents of the Wyndford to get these people out of hotels, and into proper flats.”
Wyndford Resident’s Union first flagged the avaliability of the empty Wyndford Tower properties as a solution to house Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of their home country back in April 2022 to several politicians, both local and national. The only response they received was from Neil Gray, the Minister for Culture, Europe, and International Development - who thanked the group for their concern but refused the request, citing established processes for housing the refugees.
We asked Wheatley Homes, the housing association responsible for the management of the scheme, if it would be possible for Ukrainian refugees to be housed in the Wyndford Towers, here is their response:“Wheatley Group is already making 700 homes available to local authorities in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway, West Lothian, Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire to support Ukrainian refugees.
“Since 2016, we have also re-housed over 1560 people who had fled their homeland to re-build their lives in Scotland.
“The empty bedsit and one-bedroom flats in the four blocks at Wyndford have already been stripped of essential amenities and are not fit for living in.”
Members of the resident’s union defy the housing association’s assertion that the flats are ‘not fit for living in’ - as the union claim Wheatley have only begun to strip white goods from the empty flats, but nothing essential.