A report released to the Guardian this morning highlights two Sikh organisations – Sikh Council and Sikh Youth and Community Service – have received six-figure sums between them from a series of Home Office grants in recent years. The grants were paid to assist immigration enforcement teams in removing people from the UK, in most cases rough sleepers.
Whether it be Birmingham or West London it has become an all too regular occurrence seeing Punjabi men and women living homeless. Many of these that are homeless just want to be returned home, but have no means in doing so. There is mounting concern about Home Office tactics to deport migrant rough sleepers from the UK and its use of payments to assist with these removals, with the department facing accusations of racial profiling.
Manchester-based human rights charity Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research, and seen by the Guardian, reveals that 21 Home Office immigration surgeries are embedded in community centres and places of worship across London and in Birmingham, Slough and Manchester. It shows that Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs are being targeted for removal, along with Brazilians, Albanians and Chinese people.
Balvinder Kaur of the Sikh Youth and Community Service in Nottinghamshire. told the Guardian that about 220 people had returned to India in “a respectful and dignified manner” since 2016. She said her faith-based organisation did not operate immigration surgeries in places of worship but put out messages in Punjabi media in the UK about the service the organisation provided to assist with voluntary return.
A spokesman for the Sikh Council told the Guardian said: “The scheme was a direct response to the need on the streets where people were sleeping rough, had ill health. It is not considered as conflict in charities accessing government funds to alleviate poverty and suffering of the homeless. The funding has to be applied for annually and paid in arrears. The allocation and actual spend figures differ due to unpredictability of numbers wishing to return voluntarily.”