FOR THE first time in a decade a new MSP will be elected in the Glasgow Kelvin constituency after SNP Sandra White stood down.

Ms White has held the Glasgow Kelvin seat, which stretches from North Kelvinside to Finnieston and includes Partick and Kelvinhaugh, since 2011 when she defeated Labour’s Pauline McNeil by 882.

Ms White announced that she would not be standing for re-election in August last year. As part of our election coverage, we’ve been asking community groups what issues they think the new MSP should be focussing on after the election.

Maryhill Integration Network (MIN) is an organisation based in Maryhill with members throughout the city.

MIN has helped to support asylum seekers and refugees in Glasgow since 2001 and now has a number of members living in Glasgow Kelvin who have been housed in hotels throughout the pandemic. MIN says the next representative of this constituency needs to address the needs of asylum seekers and ensure they are housed within the community.

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Pinar Aksu, development officer of the MIN, said: “One of the issues that needs addressed is the number of people being housed in hotels. People are housed in IBIS Hotels and we do have members who join our groups who currently stay in hotels and the new mother and baby unit.

“We want people to be part of the community and not hosted in hotels as a way of their housing disposal. We strongly believe that for people to be part of the community and to engage they need to be housed within the community not in an institutionalised space which could cause them long term harm.

“This was supposed to be temporary but it has been one year and people are still living in hotels and we don’t want this to become a normalised practice. I think that is one of the key things we are asking for.

“There needs to be more done in the city centre when it comes welcoming people. We need to find methods of housing people.

“I know that some MPs and MSPs have really strong feelings on this but we need more people to challenge these practices.”

MIN is encouraging the public to sympathise with people in this situation.

"I have seen a lot of hatred” Ms Aksu added. “ The general public immediately think that’s great you are getting a wee holiday but what people don’t know is that this is not a luxury.

“Freedom has been taken away. It’s not fair on the hotel staff during a global pandemic who had to open their hotel to house asylum seekers and refugees.”

Glasgow Central Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB) which is based in the Mitchell Library and helps citizens across the Kelvin constituency, was the first bureau in the country having opened, originally in Bath Street, in January 1939.

They see around 4,000 clients each year who bring around 7,000 enquiries, many complex, covering a wide range of subjects mainly state benefits, employment, housing multiple debt and immigration.

While Glasgow Central CAB mainly operates from the Mitchell Library it also has 20 outreaches in services for the homeless, community libraries and community groups.

Manager Vincent Chudy said: “In the last year we achieved financial gain for our clients amounting to £1,386,948 which leads to helping the economy. We managed £2,905,238 of multiple consumer debt.

“The effect of Covid restrictions has seen a distinct rise in enquiries related to employment and benefits and this is likely to continue for some considerable time. It is clearly evident that once thriving businesses are now permanently closed. In many case complete families have lost their jobs overnight especially in hospitality.

“Moving forward we will all have to adjust to a different way of working such as working from home with the closure of workplaces and consequently the demise of cafes and sandwich bars. Many jobs we never be replaced. Families have been irretrievable damaged.

"The service provided is vital for the most vulnerable in our society and this should be reflected by politicians and governments both locally and nationally.”

Glasgow North West Citizens Advice Bureau (GNWCAB) is asking the next MSP to end poverty and inequality within the community.

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Rob Gallagher, CEO of GNWCAB, said: “Everyday CABs across Glasgow work in areas of extreme poverty and deprivation.

“During the pandemic GNWCAB has helped over 5,000 local people and seen an increase in crises. GNWCAB’s mission is to end poverty and inequality in our community and we welcome the continuation of the work carried out in these key areas by the Scottish Parliament.

“We have actively worked with our MSP on ending child poverty in the Maryhill and Canal wards, and on the advancement of human rights and equality across Northwest Glasgow.”