IN Glasgow, we have a proud history of providing refuge for people fleeing war and violence. Of course, there are some who would dispute that we should – to them I’d say, first of all, we must examine our role in the British Empire. When our country was responsible for laying the jagged foundations of current conflicts and destabilisation which displace millions, it’s too late to pull up the drawbridge and cry victim.

Secondly, everyone on earth has the right under law to seek safety from a credible threat. Given half the city dashed up the A9 trying to outrun coronavirus in a caravan, we understand that when there’s a threat, we move heaven and earth to seek safety for our families.

People are rightly concerned about others with inadequate housing. These concerns are valid, but it’s not one or the other – we fight for both asylum justice and for decent housing for all. Divide and conquer is a tactic to turn us against each other, rather than the bosses and landlords holding the purse strings and creating bad laws. It is also a tactic of power to create scarcity over a precious resource, like housing, so instead of being furious that there are not enough houses, we argue about who deserves it more. Everyone deserves a home. Everyone. There should be enough. We should not be fighting amongst ourselves for scraps.

The treatment of people seeking asylum during lockdown has been even more appalling than usual, with tragic consequences – two people have now lost their lives. In May, young Syrian Adnan Elbi was found dead in his hotel room, having previously tried to seek help. A week ago was the terrible attack in the Park Inn. While details are still unclear, we know from witnesses that concerns were raised in the days beforehand – it’s imperative an independent enquiry is established.

Glasgow Times: Six people were stabbed during an attack in the Park Inn Hotel last week Six people were stabbed during an attack in the Park Inn Hotel last week

We also know that people staying in the hotels have been raising the alarm about the mental health toll for months. Mears Group, the Home Office landlord responsible for the hotel moves during lockdown, has admitted it did not carry out vulnerability assessments before moving people.

This is part of a wider story of how new Glaswegians have repeatedly been failed by private companies with lucrative asylum housing contracts. Before Mears it was Serco, who we had to fight to prevent their brutal policy of changing locks, and before Serco it was the notorious Orchard & Shipman. Housing for vulnerable people should never be run for profit – it’s long past time to take it out of private hands.

Glasgow has amazing expertise in the grassroots groups and charities supporting people through the asylum system. The council should be able to work with them to provide not just housing but wraparound support for people in a way that meets their needs and preserves agency and dignity. The Scottish Greens are calling profit to be removed from the equation – asylum seeker housing must be put in local hands, run by the council and the third sector. It’s long past time.