Housing firm to scrap asylum seeker wristbands after outcry


A housing firm is to stop makingasylum seekers wear wristbands to claim food after an outcry from campaigners.

The brightly-coloured wristbands were handed out to refugees staying at Lynx House in Cardiff so they could claim breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Bosses at Clearsprings Ready Homes, a Home Office contractor, initially insisted the bands were discreet and did not single out residents, but a human rights group called them "appalling".

The issue was also raised in Parliament by Labour's Stephen Doughty, who said the bands were "stigmatising" asylum seekers.

In a statement to the Guardian, Clearsprings said it was "grateful for feedback to help improve the safety and effectiveness of their services".

The firm said: "Asylum seekers who spend their initial few weeks at out full-board accommodation in Cardiff have been provided with wristbands since May 2015 to ensure they receive the services they are entitled to and to make sure those more vulnerable asylum seekers have access to their specific requirements.

"As in numerous such establishments where large numbers of people are being provided with services, wristbands are considered to be one of the most reliable and effective ways of guaranteeing delivery.

"We are always reviewing the way we supply our services and have decided to cease the use of wristbands as of Monday 25 January and will look for an alternative way of managing the fair provision of support."

A temporary system would be used until photo ID cards could be introduced in the next few weeks, the paper said.

Earlier, the Welsh Refugee Council (WRC) claimed the wristbands echoed the yellow star Jewish people were forced to wear during the time of Nazi Germany.

WRC policy officer Hannah Wharf said: "We have raised the matter many times with the Welsh Government. It harks back to the Nazi regime with people being forced to wear a Star of David and stand out.

"It's absolutely appalling, it is treating people like lesser beings. It is treating them like animals lining up to feed."

Mr Doughty, MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, called for an investigation into the firm during an urgent question in the Commons.

Immigration minister James Brokenshire replied: "I do expect the highest standards from all contractors including that there is no issue of stigma attached to those under their care, and if there is evidence to suggest that this is not the case, it will be treated with the utmost seriousness."

It follows a similar controversy in Middlesbrough, where asylum seekers said they had been targeted by racist thugs after being housed behind red front doors in the Teesside town.