Thursday, March 11, 2010


I received the letter below unsolicited from the YMCA and I am printing it in the hope that those concerned will accept that something is badly wrong with what is happening to asylum seekers in Glasgow.
Ms. Qureshi clearly makes some serious allegations and Mr. Connolly clearly refutes them robustly. I just want the matter clarified and something done about it and I hope that both agencies and others involved can act together to solve this very serious problem.

Dear All,
Please find attached a statement from Joe Connolly, Chief Executive Officer, YMCA Glasgow regarding correspondence circulated by Robina Qureshi, Director, Positive Action in Housing.

Yours sincerely

Lynne Fairbairn

Lynne Fairbairn
Personal Assistant to CEO
YMCA Glasgow
Head Office
William Harte House
15 Dava Street
G51 2JA Tel: 0141 565 1204
Mob: 07876028653 Fax: 0141 565 1219 Email: l.fairbairn@ymcaglasgow.orgWeb:

Statement from Joe Connolly, Chief Executive, YMCA Glasgow

Thursday 11 March 2010 – 14.30pm

Correspondence Circulated by Robina Qureshi – Positive Action in Housing

YMCA Glasgow was contacted, via messages left on the Head Office answer phone, in the early evening of Wednesday 10 March 2010 by BBC Radio Scotland and Radio Clyde. The messages were picked up when the office opened at 9am on Thursday 11 March and each was requesting that I contact the respective radio stations.

I proceeded to contact Radio Clyde in the first instance to be told by a reporter that they had received by e-mail the previous evening a letter from Robina Qureshi, Director of Positive Action in Housing (PAiH) in which she has made a number of allegations about the treatment of a YMCA Glasgow service user at 33 Petershill Drive on the evening of Tuesday 9 March 2010.

As you can see, the letter is addressed to me. I understand from various sources that it has been circulated extensively to a number of individuals and organisations, including sections of the press. To date, this letter has not been received by YMCA Glasgow and, in order to address the issues referred to in it, I asked the Radio Clyde reporter to e-mail it to me.

Having consulted with relevant staff who were on duty in 33 Petershill Drive at the time when the alleged incident referred to in the letter was taking place, I am satisfied that the allegations made by Robina Qureshi are totally unfounded.

My staff at the YMCA Glasgow service at Petershill Drive have reported that they were approached on the evening of 9 March 2010 by a woman who spoke to them in a challenging manner to the point that staff felt intimidated by her. She was accompanied by a man who seemed to be taking notes.

Staff have informed me that the description of events described in Ms Qureshi’s letter bears no resemblance to what staff members experienced, witnessed and said during the evening of Tuesday 9 March 2010.

I can also say, emphatically, that the description of events in Ms Qureshi’s letter bears no resemblance to what is standard practice within YMCA Glasgow asylum seeker services in which we operate an effective “no eviction” policy.

I will not comment in detail on the personal circumstances of any of YMCA Glasgow service user as to do so would breach our policy on service user confidentiality. It is, however, important in the circumstances to note that the person named by Ms Qureshi in her letter is, with his belongings, accommodated by YMCA Glasgow and, in accordance with our no eviction policy, will remain so until the Scottish Refugee Council are able to provide him with the assistance he requires.

YMCA Glasgow delivers similar services to other organisations, such as Glasgow City Council, which provide accommodation on behalf of the UK Borders Agency to asylum seekers in Scotland.

YMCA Glasgow funds a number of services and initiatives for asylum seekers and refugees from our own voluntary income. In the past two years this has amounted to approximately £2 million, a substantial amount of which is capital funding which we have used to refurbish accommodation in the North Glasgow, including at Petershill Drive. We have also supported the establishment of asylum seeker residents association as a means of ensuring that service users can communicate in a structured way with YMCA Glasgow for the purpose of working collaboratively to continuously improve services.

YMCA Glasgow is a charitable organisation registered with the Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) and, in common with other registered charities, our financial accounts are in the public domain.

Contact: Joseph P Connolly Chief Executive Officer
YMCA Glasgow Head Office
William Harte House 15 Dava Street
Glasgow Tel: 0141 565 120 Fax: 0141 565 1219


Alan said...

It would seem from this and your previous post that you automatically assumed that the YMCA are in the wrong on this without any evidence or proof whatsoever.

I have worked closely with the YMCA who are a very decent and creditable organisation and I find it very difficult to believe that they would treat anyone this way and particularly for no reason.

I will however reserve my judgement as I have no evidence or proof and neither do you.

Your printing of the article and your automatic condemnation of the YMCA are rather irresponsible.


Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Alan) 10:58
“It would seem from this and your previous post that you automatically assumed that the YMCA are in the wrong on this without any evidence or proof whatsoever”

So what is your agenda then Alan? What are you up to? I printed the letter from the homeless project and called for the YMCA to respond; they did and I immediately printed their version of events; at no time did I accuse anyone of anything I called for clarification and action to sort this matter out.

I can’t help thinking that you are being devious but I can’t figure out why; I do think though that being devious and disingenuous when dealing with such a subject does not make you look good at all.

Alan said...

"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."

Where is your impartiality in this statement Mr Kelly?

I don't see you statement asking for any proof or answers from the accuser so you have automatically assumed they are in the wrong.

You are shameless

Alan said...

"It beggars belief that an organisation with the word Christian in its title could act in such a way;"

This was your statement without having any proof or evidence of the facts.

Why do you think that I have an agenda

Does everyone who disagrees with you have to have an agenda?

Are you that paranoid?

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Alan) 12/03/10
“"It beggars belief that an organisation with the word Christian in its title could act in such a way”

So the above statement is an accusation is it? You’ve got an agenda all right Alan it’s quite clear.

“I don't see you statement asking for any proof or answers from the accuser so you have automatically assumed they are in the wrong”

I called on the YMCA to give their version and when they did I printed it right away; you are coming across as a devious liar.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

See previous response.

Jennifer said...

I am aware that there are a lot of very good, decent people working for the YMCA. Nevertheless I have very serious misgivings about their work with asylum seekers in Glasgow.

I would urge Cllr Kelly to either contact Robina Quershi at PAIH or use what influence he has with his Labour collegues in Glasgow to have the work of the YMCA with asylum seekers scrutinised more closely.

I don't work for PAIH but have spoken to several of their clients on a professional basis and am aware that they have had some very serious allegations about what is happening at the YMCA acommodation in Glasgow.

As I say there are some very good people employed by the YMCA but something has gone very badly wrong at the Red Road, I hope and beleive it's just a few bad apples but there seem to be serious issues that needs addressed.

Given the confidentiality issues involved I do not want to explain precisely what incidents have caused me concern for some time now, however I'm sure PAIH will be happy to provide interested parties with further detail.

Well done for mentioning this.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Jennifer) 15/03/10

The situation in this country regarding asylum seekers and immigrants has been a source of embarrassment and shame for many years, there is no excuse for any society not treating their fellow human beings with respect and dignity and we are guilty of not doing that.

I have never gone along with the view that an organisation is de facto good because it is a Christian one; events over the years should have made that obvious to everyone.

The present situation and the tragedy of the suicides demand a full enquiry and that will inevitably involve the YMCA I’m sure they would not want it otherwise; everyone with any kind of locus in these matters must be included.

I have written to colleagues in the Labour Party as well as elected representatives calling for this and I urge others to do the same.

Anonymous said...

Here here terry kelly the ymca has had allegations against it about its treatment since 2001. We thought they might have changed or at least try to live up to the word "christian" in their actions but unfortunately not. I am less ocncerned about the ymca and more concerned about the voiceless. So lets ask YMCA, exactly how much do you get per asylum seeker per night at ymca?

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

I don’t know enough about the YMCA to make accusations against them and I’m not aware of any allegations made against them but you do ask a valid question about money, I will ask it on the front of my Blog.

scotland said...

As Jennifer mentioned in a previous post, there are some very good people working within YMCA Glasgow but unfortunately this does not make up for the organisations failings as either a good employer or service provider.
The people working at the Red Road flats are on a pittance of a wage and I have sympathy for these workers who have to work in difficult circumstances for that kind of money. Can you really blame some of them for not giving 100%. And don't get me wrong I'm not condoning for one minute any bad practice or ill treatment of asylum seekers.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(scotland) 26/03/10
I don’t doubt that there are some very good people working for the YMCA either. I hope there will be a proper enquiry into the tragedy to shine a light on the whole business.

If there are organisations which are bad employers and poor service providers who are responsible for the welfare of asylum seekers then I hope they will be exposed and replaced.