Glasgow Commonwealth Games organisers propose to ban asylum seekers from volunteering

January 29, 2013

The organisers of the Commonwealth Games, which will take place next in Glasgow, have provoked controversy by announcing that asylum seekers will not be eligible to act as volunteers when the event is underway in 2014.

This contrasts with the policy of the London Olympic Games organisers, where an estimated 10% of volunteers came from asylum seeking communities.

Gary Christie, Head of Policy for Scottish Refugee Council, is quoted in the currrent issue of Quickmail, the newsletter of Postive Action in Housing, (PAIH) as saying: “We are extremely disappointed and frustrated by the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee’s decision not to allow asylum seekers to volunteer for this exciting event. Asylum seekers – many of whom flee horrendous situations of violence and persecution in their home countries – have a wealth of skills but are not allowed to work while their asylum claim is processed. Many choose to volunteer.

The sense of value and self-worth that this brings is extremely positive at a time when they have to deal with the stress of going through the often inhumane asylum system. They can contribute to society which is good for the whole of Scotland.”

PAIH has issued a call to action to get this decision overturned. This call states:

If you support justice and equality then support the call asylum seekers to be allowed to volunteer equally like everyone else. Please email Shona Robison MSP, Scottish Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport in your own words at [email protected] . Please also contact members of the Commonwealth 2014 Board and their Chief Executive David Grevemberg and ask them to make an immediate U-turn. Please email [email protected]. Please send a copy of all emails to [email protected].

Members of the Glasgow 2014 Board are: Lord Smith of Kelvin, Louise Martin CBE, Michael Cavanagh, Sir Bill Gammell, Cllr. Archie Graham (Glasgow City Council), Bridget McConnell (Glasgow City Council), Alan Mitchelson, Rhona Simpson (Athlete Representative), Eileen Gallagher, John Mason (The Scottish Government), Francesca Osowska (Scottish Government), Colin Hood.