People held in detention can be vulnerable, isolated and frightened. Many are young, speak no English, and may not know anyone in this country. Whether a person has recently arrived in the UK or has been here for many years, the experience of detention can be traumatic. They are held for indefinite periods and do not always understand the system that will decide their future.
Our volunteers undertake to visit one person regularly, listening and caring about what happens to them. In this way, although we cannot affect the outcome of their case, we can help to reduce their isolation, acting as a contact with the outside world. The visitor notices when anxiety and depression, or other medical problems, are becoming serious and can alert GDWG staff to make a referral to expert organisations such as Medical Justice when appropriate.
One of the greatest problems faced by people held indefinitely in immigration detention, is lack of access to good quality legal advice. Some do not understand the legal processes of claiming asylum or getting bail, nor do they know what they can expect from their legal representative. GDWG try as far as possible to make appropriate referrals to lawyers on behalf of detainees. By liaising with solicitors, or clarifying the legal process, we try to ensure that everyone we meet receives a fair hearing. We also help people make complaints where appropriate, and collate information, along with other visitors\’ groups, with a view to attempting to improve the system as a whole.
We also assist with small practical needs, such as second-hand clothing, international phone-cards, and small amounts of money to destitute people being deported, and to families who wish to visit their loved ones being held at Gatwick.
“GDWG helps us to gain more insight into the problems faced by detainees, as well as the general system they are contained in. They are insightful, aware, compassionate, and dedicated. Overall, we see their input as an integral part of the psycho-social system and without them, life for the detainees would be even more unbearable.”
Maeve Crowley, former Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Tinsley House
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