Twelve mothers and babies seeking asylum in Scotland have been moved from “cramped and unsafe housing” in a unit in Glasgow’s southside.
The office of the Children’s commissioner published a report in March which found women and their children were living in conditions that posed a significant risk of violating their human rights.
The office announced on Tuesday that they have “finally” been relocated to suitable housing.
They were placed in bedsit accommodation in Glasgow’s southside by the Mears Group with full approval of Glasgow City Council and the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership (HSPC).
While provider Mears Group assured the office in November 2021 that the families would be moved, there were still 12 mums and their babies in the unit at the end of March.
At the time, mothers told the commissioner that there was “no space to feed their babies, limited washing and cooking facilities, and little support”.
At the time, a mum who lived in the unit with her child said: “The worst part is knowing my child isn’t safe. I’m in a new country, a new mum, and I don’t have support. I worry about my child far more than I worry about myself.”
The commissioner stated that the conditions posed a significant risk of violating the children’s human rights.
After moving from the unit with her baby, one mum said: “I want to thank everyone who was behind us. I was in the mother and baby unit where the accommodation was not suited for babies and toddlers.
“Now we have been moved, we are in better places, and we are at peace. We are really thankful. We cried every day, and needed someone to listen and support us, and now it’s a big thank you.
The accommodation we are in now is good, there’s a lot of space. You can play with your baby on the floor, you can see your baby crawl, you can see the baby going from crawling to standing up and starting to walk. All the steps that a child has to develop when they are growing.
“I’m overwhelmed and I’d like to say a thank you to all the organisations who helped and to Mears for moving us.”
Nick Hobbs, head of advice and investigations at the Children’s Commissioner, raised concerns that the change in housing took as long as it did.
He said: “We visited the unit last summer and saw for ourselves how shocking the conditions were and we called for the authorities to move the mums and their babies then. We’re pleased that the families have finally been moved but this can’t happen again. We must make sure all refugee and asylum-seeking children are treated with dignity and respect for their human rights.”
“No child should live in conditions that violate their human rights and, once again, we are asking the Scottish Government to legislate urgently to create human rights-based statutory minimum housing standards for children.”