The practice of forcing asylum seekers to wear brightly coloured wristbands in order to receive food is abhorrent and a regressive step away from Wales’ long history as a nation of sanctuary. The bands were introduced in late 2015 as a cost-cutting measure by Clearsprings Ready Homes, a private company responsible for the provision of asylum accommodation under their COMPASS contract with the Home Office.
Several of Welsh Refugee Council’s clients have raised concerns over this practice in recent months, with more than 200 asylum seekers housed in Cardiff’s asylum accommodation required to show their coloured wristbands to identify themselves.
The use of the wristband to get a meal is humiliating and we are not always believed even when we wear them
says one asylum seeker.
Welsh Refugee Council has raised this matter with the accommodation provider and the Home Office but has not received a response to date. The stigmatising practice is the latest in a long line of concerning procedures which neglect the interests and wellbeing of those seeking protection.
We are very pleased to know that Clearsprings Ready Homes has now removed the use of wristbands as an identity to get a meal at the Lynx House in Cardiff.
The use of large firms to fulfil this essential public function has regrettably seemingly led to a systematic failure to recognise the often traumatising circumstances and experiences of persecution that lead to their forced migration.
Sadly, the exposure of the suspected use of red doors in Middlesbrough and the use of wristbands in Cardiff reveal broader failings to recognise the needs of asylum seekers. These reports join a long history of complaints of poor accommodation standards and shocking accounts of neglect which fail to deliver the standard of care the state owes to those seeking protection under international law. In the absence of independent inspections, such failings have become pervasive in asylum accommodation nationwide.
As the COMPASS contracts for asylum accommodation approach review, we call for greater scrutiny of their practices and procedures to assess whether the current providers are fit-for-purpose, meet the needs of those we have a duty to protect and are a good use of public money.