May 28, 2015

Aspen card shopping buddy scheme

If you would like to be involved in the Aspen Card Buddy Scheme, either as a buddy or as a Aspen Card User, please let us know by sending us an email on info@unitycentreglasgow.org with your name, phone number, and what part of town you live in.

The Aspen Card replaced the voucher system for the provision of weekly funds to asylum seekers in the UK. In addition to the tiny amount people are asked to live on, with these cards, capped at £35 a week, they greatly restrict both where and on what people can spend their money, as the card can only be used in certain shops. They also prevent asylum seekers from saving money and so obtaining even basic essentials as a pair of shoes or a winter coat becomes near impossible. Other problems people report facing with these cards include stigmatisation, including humiliating treatment from cashiers and members of the public, and having their money unfairly reduced by the Home Office without warning. There have also been many reports of the card not working at all and card users have to go home without food. The Aspen Card system plays a central role in restricting and destabilising the lives and autonomy of asylum seekers in the UK.

This Guardian article was published 5 years ago but a lot of the complaints still occur.

The idea behind the scheme is to give card users support when they go shopping, monitoring the behaviour of stores towards card users and helping out when problems arise.

If you are either an Aspen Card user or would like to volunteer as a buddy please contact us with the days, times and places you will be regularly available. We will try to pair people up as best we can (based on location in Glasgow) and then introduce you to each other (in person if you prefer). Please email us at info@unitycentreglasgow.org.