We – The Unity Centre – are a No Borders and non-hierarchical collective run completely by unpaid volunteers in Glasgow. The collective is a mix of people with papers and people struggling for their own. Unity began 9 years ago, born out of the community resistance to dawn raids that were taking place. We organise out of a small office round the corner from the local Home Office, 5 days a week, with a 24hr phone-line, and little resources or money. We work to provide unconditional practical and emotional support to people seeking asylum, refugees, and all migrants affected by the racist and brutally oppressive border and immigration controls that operate in the UK and across the world. We believe in and try to enact solidarity, not charity. This is not necessarily easy or simple, but we believe we should be fighting to change fundamental injustice, not just bandage wounds. We aim to enable people to navigate the system how they want, and to be empowered to make their own choices.
We support people inside and outside of detention. Recently the continual privatisation and funding cuts of 3rd sector charities working in asylum and migration mean that we are increasingly supporting people with housing and destitution issues, unable to give the most time and energy to supporting people in detention centres who are due to be removed from the UK.
There are also a few campaigns we’re working on at the moment: challenging the legitimacy of charter flights which forcibly remove high numbers of rejected refugees and migrants to specific countries en masse. We’re campaigning to bring attention to criminal deportations: the racist double punishment which targets certain groups with deportation, regardless of the number of years they’ve lived in the UK and the life they’ve built up. A “foreign criminal” first serves their full prison sentence, and is then – unlike British nationals – detained in immigration detention and subsequently deported to their “country of origin”. We’re also looking to challenge the ‘deport now, appeal later’ policy of the Home Office, which dictates that those seeking to appeal a decision made by the Home Office must make the appeal from the country they are first deported to. Currently this is only applicable to criminal deportations, but the Tories have pledged to subject all immigration appeals to this unjust logic.
Unity also runs peer support groups for asylum seekers and refugees: one for women, and the other for LGBTQ folk, to empower and support each other through the process. We have links with lots of other organisations in Glasgow (including several charities who are actually very nice people!), and are sistered with the Govan Community Bike Workshop that provides free or cheap work on bikes for the local community.
If you or anyone you know would be interested in getting involved, get in touch. Find us on Facebook or unitycentreglasgow.org. If you can support us financially- thank you! We run on shoestrings, luck, and donations. We need all the help we can get.