Hunger strike & keeping families connected
The conditions in the hotel accommodation in Reading, and indeed across the UK, are horrendous. They are not fit for purpose. With some folks stuck in the accommodation coming up to a year, things peaked in February with a 2-day hunger strike. They were told things would change, they did not. This resulted in an extensive strike from using hotel food, which is still ongoing for some. We, as Red Kitchen, helped platform their voices in international news, Sky News, local papers, using their stories and steer to push Reading Borough Council to finally take some ownership, for local MPs to push for an end to the hostile environment.
While small wins like improvements in food are important, we cannot lose momentum. This week alone we’ve been helping a young man who was forced to sleep rough for two days because of an accommodation technicality he didn’t understand about staying away. We’ve been supporting a mum and her toddler, bundled out of the accommodation with minimal notice due to harassment she’s facing - more action than is usually taken, while women are shoved into completely inappropriate hotels for months on end. Nevertheless, she loses her nursery space and support network, and is in yet another temporary holding.
We must hold the state and those in power to account. Why are Clearsprings making billions while asylum seekers live in squalid conditions? Where is the safeguarding and support for families? This Healthwatch Report flagged the conditions asylum seekers were enduring since 2020 - why haven’t any authorities in Reading acted on it? Why are we completely oblivious to our foreign policy, then allowing hate speech and fear mongering about asylum seekers? Why are their decisions so slow, and why are deportations continuing, sending vulnerable people to horrific situations?
Keeping families connected
While we continue to push for larger change, our daily service continues strong. Amazing meals, consistent local support, it’s truly fantastic. One way we could make this 11 months of limbo better, is by providing a way for our friends to learn, and connect with their families. That’s why if you have a working laptop or tablet lying around, we’d love to be able to pass it on to someone. Even if you had time to go through our electronics stock and fix what we have, we’d appreciate it - just give us a message for drop off times via FB, Instagram. As always, all of your donations are incredible - they help us top up phones, buy warm clothes for children, help vulnerable people have trainers instead of walking around in minus degree weather in flipflops.
The Reading Red Kitchen coordinators