Campaigners have had concerns for some time over the threat of a looming mental health crisis within the refugee and asylum seeker communities in Glasgow.

Lockdown as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic is thought to have triggered previous trauma in the already vulnerable group, many of whom have lived through war, sexual assault and detention as well as being displaced from their own countries and families.

Speaking to The Herald before Friday’s incident, campaigners flagged their concerns, calling on more support and transparency from the Government and other agencies.

Ronier Deumeni, of advocacy charity African Challenge Scotland, has been providing weekly food packs to BAME families during lockdown, many of whom arrived in Glasgow through the asylum process.

He said: “We are receiving an increased number of calls as people come under so much pressure. Levels of anxiety and depression are very high and lockdown has triggered incidences of post-traumatic stress, with people being reminded of treatment during detention or before they came to the UK. There is real atmosphere of fear.”

READ MORE: Home Office under fire for ignoring refugees' 'appalling' accommodation problems

According to statistics from the Refugee Council, some 61 per cent of asylum seekers experience serious mental distress and refugees are five times more likely to have mental health needs compared to the rest of the UK population.

The No Evictions Network Glasgow has been campaigning to improve conditions for those asylum seekers housed in hotels in the city, around 20 of whom are refusing food provided by Home Office contractor Mears, which they claim is often rotten, undercooked and not culturally appropriate. There have also been reports of people being refused access to healthcare professionals by workers in the hotels.

They are calling for a change to the food provided, reinstatement of weekly financial support – suspended during lockdown – and safe, permanent accommodation for all.

READ MORE: Mears breaks silence over bloodbath at Glasgow hotel it used to house asylum seekers

The Scottish Refugee Council ‘s services manager Esther Muchena said: “It has become clear Covid-19 targets the most vulnerable in society disproportionately. 
“People seeking protection are dealing with complex traumas and displacement. Many people have pre-existing health issues too. These are all aggravated by the asylum system, which leaves people with little or no money, in often poor housing, trying to navigate its complexities.

“Lockdown takes away what little freedoms people had left, all the same things that have affected us all. Yet they are still stuck in the asylum system, just trying to survive, with huge uncertainty around their status. It is hugely triggering."