Print Friendly and PDF
only search openDemocracy.net

Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists

Regardless of government orders and promises to Parliament, UK property company Jomast carries on putting asylum tenants at risk.

Safe as houses: red door, repainted door, arson attack door, Friday 20 May 2016

Asylum seekers living in the north east of England report that they have suffered racist abuse, thanks to their landlord making them an easy target by painting their door red.

Their landlord is Stuart Monk, owner of Jomast, one of Teesside’s most powerful companies, a company which earned the Monk family £175 million last year. Jomast is the sole sub-contractor for G4S in the North East of England. G4S was given part of the Home Office £620m UK wide COMPASS asylum housing contract in 2012.

Jomast’s practice of painting asylum seekers’ doors red in Middlesbrough and Teesside was exposed in a  front page story in The Times “Apartheid on Streets of Britain” on 20 January this year. James Brokenshire, the Home Office minister responsible for the COMPASS contracts immediately went to the House of Commons and assured MPs that there would be an inquiry into Jomast’s asylum housing and that the doors would be repainted. Jomast boss Stuart Monk said on 26 January, when he was grilled by the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee, it would be done in “two weeks”.

That hasn’t happened.

At dawn on Friday 20 May Esmé Madill, a volunteer working with asylum seekers, received a message from James (not his real name), an Iraqi asylum seeker who had fled Isis in Mosul and was now in a Jomast asylum house in Stockton-On-Tees. His house had a red door.

James said that “racists at 3.40 a.m. this morning had banged on our door”. The gang were part of a family who, James said, lived “near our house and are very racist, they tried many, many times to bother us because we are asylum seekers.” James said that a friend, a refugee from Darfur, had his house windows broken by stones from the family. “He complained five times about this English family but the police did nothing.”

James finished his message: “I am so worried about this issue, it’s awful, because we fled from Isis to seek sanctuary here, not to face racism, the Jomast door is still painted a red colour.”

Red door, Friday 3.15pm

And here it is (left).

Esmé Madill, who had for months received reports of racist attacks and verbal abuse, rang Barry Jobson of Jomast on Friday afternoon and told him about the latest reports and demanded James and the asylum seekers in his house should be moved from the area.

In a follow up e-mail Esmé gave specific examples of the attacks and harassment: “The tenants have called the police on numerous occasions after local residents have: thrown stones at them, breaking windows at the property and hitting the residents; called them abusive names; dumped rubbish at the property and tampered with the keyhole. Recently one resident was accosted for wearing Islamic dress and another was followed, while on his way to his GP, by two youths throwing stones. The police have fitted a camera outside the property but this has not led to any reduction in the racist abuse.”

Esmé wrote: “The property continues to have a front door painted red, marking it out as a property managed by Jomast and likely to house asylum seekers. I am copying this email to G4S, as on 25 January almost five months ago Juliet Halstead head of housing at G4S  said that these red doors would be painted over ‘as soon as possible’”.

Around 3.30 p.m. on the same afternoon, Friday 20 May, Jomast workers arrived at James’s house and started repainting his door. Police also arrived at the property.

A few minutes later Barry Jobson replied to Esmé stating that Jomast were “not aware of any racial abuse” at (that address) and that “the Police have not raised any issues in respect of (that street)”.

Here (right) is the repainted door.

Repainted door, Friday around 4.20pm

Just after 4 p.m. Nicola Broughton, G4S senior incident control officer responded to Esmé. “I have investigated the claims made and I can confirm that our records show that G4S also have not received any reports of anti-social behaviour or hate crimes in relation to (the address).”

Within hours there was an arson attack on the nearby house occupied by Darfuri refugees.

When I spoke to Esmé about the events in Stockton she said: “They misled us. Both Jomast and G4S said that they were going to repaint the red doors and they didn’t do it. Their failure to carry out their promises to Parliament has meant that James and other vulnerable people in their home with a red door have been physically attacked, insulted and made very afraid.”

Arson attack door, Friday 11.48pm

About the author

John Grayson is an independent researcher and adult educator. He is an activist and campaigner with SYMAAG (South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group). He writes regularly for openDemocracy and for the Institute of Race Relations news service www.irr.org.uk


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the
oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.