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Protest staged in solidarity with refugee family forced into homelessness

A PROTEST was staged in Stockport today in support of a refugee family who are homeless because they left a hotel where conditions were so shocking they could not stay.

The family — Shay Babagar, his partner and their child — from Pakistan are currently sofa-surfing at the homes of supporters in the Greater Manchester town.

They say they have only £18 a week on which to live, and Mr Babagar has been staging a hunger strike in protest at his family’s plight.

Today’s protest in support of the family was staged outside Stockport’s social services offices and was supported by Stockport Tenants’ Union, Stand Up to Racism, Solidarity Knows No Borders, Stockport United Against Austerity, Greater Manchester Unite Community, Stockport NHS Watch and Red Roots Collective.

The family is being assisted by the Refugee & Asylum Participatory Action Research (Rapar) group.

Rhetta Moran of Rapar said: “They are in receipt of only £18 per week from the state and have faced continuous demands from the Home Office that they return to a Serco-managed hotel: a site of reported assault and abuse. 

“They have also been accused of making themselves intentionally homeless.

“If your landlord is abusing you on a daily basis and you leave your accommodation, this does not mean that you are intending to be homeless.”

She said Stockport social services had refused to help the family and had told them it would be “unlawful” for the department to provide them with accommodation.

The department also threatened to call the police unless they left the office where they sought help.

Nuala O’Rourke, Head of Safeguarding at Stockport Council said: “We have been working with the family for several months since they began to reside in Stockport under the Government's Homes for Asylum Seekers scheme.”

“We have and will continue to monitor the risk to the family and establish mediation meetings between the family, the Home Office and Migrant Help UK.”

Serco have also been contacted for comment.

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