A GREEN councillor has claimed a Home Office mother and baby facility is in contravention of the UN Charter on the Rights of the Child because the facility is so cramped babies have no space to crawl.

The heartbreaking revelation came through Scottish Green’s Glasgow Councillor Kim Long in a letter to SNP Convener for Health and Social Care Councillor Mhairi Hunter. 

Long asked Hunter for the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership to pull support for the accommodation, and listed a series of issues and complaints from those living in the facility.

She dubbed the facility “unsuitable” and said that the vast majority of women residents do not want to be housed there.

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Long also pointed out that the facility on Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow, was intended to be used for single occupancy as bedsits - not for mothers and babies. 

Listing the concerns, the letter reads: “There is almost no floorspace within the rooms for children to move around safely or play.

“A resident’s quote, ‘If I put my foot down from the bed, I’m stepping into the kitchen - that’s how small it is. The baby cannot play, the baby cannot crawl’.

“This breaches the UN convention on the Rights of the Child, the Scottish Government’s Play strategy, which states that all children and young people should have space to play, and the Health and Care Standards.

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“Current Care Inspectorate Space Standards state that for children under two years, a minimum of 3.7square meters per child is expected.

“There is nowhere to sit for breastfeeding except the bed.”

Other concerns include a lack of ventilation and extractor fans, which means fire alarms going off regularly and disturbing sleeping children, only two of four washing machines - shared between 37 bedsits and 25 current residents - are currently working, and multiple safety issues.

In some cases, the kitchenette is right next to the bed which makes it difficult to prevent babies crawling into dangerous areas, as well as the layout making it difficult to put in baby proofing.

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The letter continues and says that visitors are only allowed in for two hours - including the fathers of the babies living in the unit.

She adds: “There is a high degree of monitoring of the women with no respect for privacy. Their regular behaviour is policed and their ‘infractions’ against ‘rules’ areposted publicly, humiliating the mothers.”

Long goes on to say that third sector organisations have raised concerns with Mears Group, who run the facility on behalf of the Home Office,  about the unsuitablity of the accomodation and asked Glasgow Council to pull support.

The National:

She said: “I believe that we share the view that asylum seeker housing and support services should be in local and third sector hands - not run for private profit - and that those services should be grounded in human rights and dignity. 

“While UK immigration policy is outwith the hands of Glasgow City Council and HSCP; I hope you agree that the Council must not support or condone the use of accommodation which does not meet Scottish housing human rights standards, or which denies children of families seeking asylum the rights and freedoms other children in Scotland have.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Home Office has worked closely with our providers and Glasgow City Council to develop a dedicated facility to support mothers and babies.

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"It has been purposely designed to meet their needs and complies with all regulatory and statutory requirements, providing access to healthcare and other support services so to suggest otherwise is completely false.

"There is also a dedicated welfare manager on site, who is in close contact with each resident.

“The Government is fulfilling its legal duty to provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with safe and secure accommodation.

"We are bringing forward a new immigration plan which will make our asylum system fair but firm, supporting vulnerable asylum seekers in need through safe and legal routes.”

Mears Group have been contacted for comment.