Thursday, March 11, 2010


It beggars belief that an organisation with the word Christian in its title could act in such a way; the letter below is a very serious and I think that the public are entitled to some answers from the YMCA.

98 West George Street Glasgow G2 1PJ
Tel 0141 353 2220 E
10th March 2010

FAO Joe Connolly
YMCA Glasgow
William Harthouse
25 Daba Street
Glasgow G51 2JA

Dear Mr. Connelly,


Last night, while attending a candlelit vigil in memory of the Serkhi family alongside over 200
residents of the Red road flats, myself and representatives from the Scottish Afghan Association,
Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees were approached by a young Afghan man, Saeed. He
explained that he had left his YMCA flat on the 21st floor to join the other residents at the vigil. After
about an hour, he returned to the flat whereupon he found that his room completely cleared of his
belongings and was told by the YMCA staff cleaning out his room that his stuff was gone and he
couldn’t return to the flat because the room was “for someone else” He asked us for help and was
clearly distressed. When we were approached by the young man, a crowd of people gathered round
around 25 to 30 who were clearly distressed and upset and angry for the young man. There was a
small police presence of around three officers and we were in a potentially flammatory situation.
We took him aside and went with him to his flat. It was empty as if he had never been there. The
cleaners hoover and cleaning materials were in the flat. He looked in cupboards, drawers, all his
things were gone. We witnessed this first hand and were quite shocked and went with him to speak
to your staff at reception. Saeed was casually told that his belongings were in the bin. Saeed was
stood before us at eight o clock in the evening with a set of keys he could no longer use, the clothes
he was wearing, and a letter from the YMCA telling him to leave. All his papers and personal
belongings were ‘probably in the bin’. He had no money, papers, clothes and no means to support
himself. This man was treated worse than an animal. For someone to just come into his flat and
throw out all his personal belongings while he steps out for a few minutes displays a complete lack
of respect, compassion or humanity, and particularly at such a sensitive time in the Red Road
It is my understanding that Strathclyde Police deliberately reduced the numbers of police officers to
ease tensions within the community and particularly amongst vulnerable people in the depths of
despair about their asylum cases. If this is the YMCA’s standard practice when treating asylum
seekers, then it is nothing short of flammatory to the Red road community and a disgrace to civilized
On a separate note, we would be grateful to know the following:
1. What level of cooperation does the YMCA afford to the UKBA enforcement removal team
seeking to remove asylum seekers from the YMCA flats?
2. How much money does the YMCA receive per asylum seeker for its UKBA contract at the Red
Road flats?
3. We suspect many asylum seekers are being driven to desperation by the combination of
inhumane practices being perpetrated by the UKBA and the YMCA to the point they have said
firsthand that they fully understand why the Serkhi family threw themselves from the 15th floor
of one of your flats. Will the YMCA be evicting any more asylum seekers during this troubled
time at the Red Road when so many people are in the depths of despair and hopelessness?
I would be extremely grateful for an immediate response.

Yours sincerely,

Robina Qureshi


Anonymous said...

Have the YMCA got charitable status Terry?

If they have I think the biggest question about this should be why as this act was not very charitable plus they are making money as a business out of these peoples plight.

Maybe time someone took action to have their charitable status removed if this is the case.

Paisley Expressions

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

We will all no doubt be watching developments to see who if anyone is responsible for wrong doing; I have to say that the YMCA have some explaining to do at the moment and the longer they stay silent the worse it will look.

Anonymous said...

the ymca treats asylum seekers like a cash cow. ordinary tenants who live in the flats pay a fraction of what the home office pays the ymca to house asylum seekers. the ymca gets £300 a week for putting asylum seekers in those rubbish condfemned flats. yet ne3xt door tenants who are white, their rent is a fraction of that. talk about inequality.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 10:18
I hope that the deaths of the 3 people will lead to the whole business of housing asylum seekers being closely examined; I also hope that the colour of anyone’s skin is completely irrelevant.