Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How can Commonwealth Games be inclusive if we ban seekers of sanctuary from helping at them?

We all know how the Games Makers were such an important part of last year's triumphantly successful London Olympics. When Glasgow holds the Commonwealth Games next year, we would hope for a similar smash hit.

Sadly, though, the recruitment process for the volunteers who will help to run Glasgow's Games has been called into question by the Scottish Refugee Council. The Glaswegian reports that the Games Organising Committee have effectively excluded those who seek sanctuary in this country from applying as only those who are eligible to work in the UK can apply.

Now, the UK Borders Agency is, in my opinion, one of the most unfair and unpleasant organisations we have in this country. But even they allow seekers of sanctuary to volunteer.

I hope that this is just an oversight on the part of the Games Organising Committee and that they can be persuaded to relax the requirements to allow seekers of sanctuary the chance to apply for an unforgettable experience. Given that Glasgow has the second highest number of people who have fled to this country to escape persecution, we should include them in the life of our country.

I and others have raised this with Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore who, this morning, was supporting the volunteer project in Parliament. He's not in charge of this process - the Scottish Government is - but it would be good if he were able to politely ask the Games Organising Committee to think again.


Suzanne Fletcher said...

Many thanks for highlighting this issue, Caron, and for taking it up with Michael Moore. It is truly appalling that asylum seekers with so much to offer are not going to be allowed to even apply.

Anonymous said...

If there is nothing in law that stops people volunteering even if they are not confirmed as being allowed, by the UK government, to stay in Scotland, then I agree that they should be allowed to volunteer.

One problem that I can see immediately, of course, is that if they are accepted to volunteer and subsequently deported by the UK Borders Agency, this will leave a hole in the staffing for the events.

As you point out the games are being organised by an organisation called Glasgow 2014. Rather, I imagine like Mr Coe’s Logoc. Although there is a Minister for Sport who is involved in this, she is not in a position to tell the committee what to do. Nor is Glasgow City Council which is also heavily funding the project, and as such a partner with the SG in Games 2014. As you say the SOS has no influence in this enterprise, as the UK government hasn’t made any funding available to the Games, despite Scotland having helped to fund the London Games last year..

I'm not making a party political point here, as you will see from the next paragraph.

I was very much behind the Games to begin with, a great opportunity for Scotland, originally obtained for us, incidentally, by the Liberal and Labour coalition. But then I discovered that the organising committee had agreed to sponsorship from ATOS, a company that has, on behalf of the UK government, overseen the deaths of around 11,000 sick people, and I lost interest.

Considering the amount of criticism that I have levelled at that organisation and their remit, I cannot in good conscience get involved in, or enthusiastic about, a project in which they are involved. Every time I see their name in print I think of 11,000 dead bodies, which might otherwise be alive but for their callous disregard for human decency.

I hope this situation can be resolved. Scotland should be a country that welcomes refugees and their efforts to involve themselves in our society.

Might I suggest you write to people who may have some input… ie the Scottish Sports Minister, Shona Robison, or the person who represents Glasgow City Council at the Games, pointing out the unfairness of the situation, and suggesting a way of resolving it?

Katrina said...

Putting on a professional hat the legislation around volunteering for non EU citizen depends very much on what visa they are on. If someone is not allowed to get paid work, they are not allowed to volunteer.

Its not liaison with Scottish Govt or Glasgow City Council that is needed, it is the liaison with UKBA and the Home Office.


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