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Since 1995 GDWG have supported people held at Gatwick.

Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group News

Please read our latest news stories below.

5 September 2017
Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG) response to BBC Panorama: urgent reform is needed, indefinite detention must end

Last night’s BBC Panorama featured undercover footage filmed at Brook House IRC. The footage showed shocking abuse and violence towards those held in detention at Gatwick, and we call for all allegations of abuse to be investigated thoroughly.

Particular examples of abuse within the detention estate – horrifying as they are – are only part of the full human cost of a system which is broken; a system that is dehumanising, expensive and serves nobody. The BBC investigation is only the latest scandal to hit immigration detention in the UK. The release of the programme was timely, coming on the same day that Stephen Shaw began his second review of detention in the UK.

Every other country in Europe has a time limit on immigration detention. There is no justification for detaining people indefinitely for administrative reasons, as the UK Government continues to do. Community-based models in the UK provide an alternative. In the past two years a number of reforms have been promised by the Home Office, including an end to the detention of vulnerable people, but we continue to wait for any signs of serious reform. While indefinite detention continues, the impact on those detained remains immensely damaging, causing deterioration in mental health and to desperation, not infrequently leading to self-harm and suicide attempts.

At GDWG we are proud to have stood with and supported people held in detention by Gatwick Airport, since the opening of Tinsley House IRC in 1996. We have worked with thousands of people and witnessed people deteriorate and lose hope in the face of the cruelty and injustice of indefinite detention.

We urge Stephen Shaw and all parliamentarians to put pressure on the government and ensure that urgent and significant reform finally takes place.

Please see Detention Forum’s guide to actions you can take in response to the documentary, to put pressure on parliamentarians and to call for change.

18 May 2017
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC joins GDWG as Patron

Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG) are delighted to announce that Baroness Helena Kennedy QC has become Patron of the charity, alongside valued current Patron Lord Dholakia.

Baroness Kennedy is a highly distinguished barrister, broadcaster and peer, with a lifetime experience’s championing civil liberties and defending human rights.

Since 1995, GDWG has been working to improve the welfare and well-being of people held in detention at Brook House and Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs), and to advocate for change. The heart of their work is visiting: sending volunteers into the IRCs to see particularly isolated detainees on a one-to-one basis, providing a listening ear and emotional and practical support. The charity also assists with a range of other practical needs, and campaigns for a 28-day time-limit, alongside other members of the Detention Forum. GDWG assisted over 1300 people in detention in 2016, and is currently planning for the third year of its successful and innovative Refugee Tales project.

GDWG host their AGM tonight (Thursday 18th May) at a time when the Home Office is increasing the number held in detention in the IRCs next to Gatwick Airport. Unlike every other country in Europe, there is no time limit for immigration detention in the UK. People are sometimes held for years. Around 3,500 people are held in IRCs across the UK at any one time, without criminal charge but in prison conditions. It costs over £33,000 to keep one person in detention for a year.

James Wilson, Director of GDWG, said: ‘Baroness Kennedy is an inspirational figure and we are so proud that she is now supporting GDWG, at a time when sadly our work is needed more than ever.’

9 May 2017
Advertising for new trustees, visitors and office volunteers

We are currently advertising for both trustee and volunteer roles with the charity at a time when our work has, sadly, never been more needed. Please see our ‘Jobs’ page for further details.

23 January 2017
Refugee Tales 2017 – Ticket Sales open from today

In July 2017, following successful walks in 2015 and 2016, Refugee Tales walkers will journey from Runnymede to Westminster, calling for an end to indefinite immigration detention in the UK. Sign up and buy tickets on to walk for a day, a weekend or the full five days.

Refugee Tales takes The Canterbury Tales as a model of journeying and sharing tales. This year, walkers will make evening stops in Walton on Thames (1 July), Kingston (2 July), Brentford (3 July), Hammersmith (4 July) and Westminster (5 July) finishing with a reading of tales of the refugee experience at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in the Mall. Writers working with former detainees and those who work with them are: Will Self, Ian Duhig, Vahni Capildeo, Marina Warner and Neel Mukherjee. Tales featured this year are: The Mother’s Tale, The Father’s Tale, The Soldier’s Tale, The Walker’s Tale and The Teacher’s Tale. Musicians such as Na-mara and Don Kipper will perform alongside hosts including Sheila Hancock.

Come and walk in solidarity with refugees and detainees on our walk this year. See you there!

17 May 2016
Join us at the Refugee Tales Forum - 3rd July

GDWG invites you to join us in broadening the discussion about campaigning for and end to indefinite immigration detention. On Sunday 3 July, Ali Smith, Shami Chakrabarti, and Ben Okri will join a conversation about detention when Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group and the University of Kent present a one-day conference in Canterbury. This is a chance to consider the underlying logics of detention, and the economics of detention alongside considerations of language, movement and stories. It is entitled ‘Forum : Being Detained Indefinitely: A Day of Thought, Performance and Action’ and there is a student price of £10 for the day or a general delegate price of £30. Ali Smith will speak on ‘Transformations’ and Ben Okri is the final speaker of the day. Jerome Phelps, Eiri Ohtani, Patrick Kingsley and Mary Bosworth will take part in panels alongside Angie Hobbs, Cornelius Katona, Maurice Wren, David Herd and Marina Warner amongst others. We hope to see you there. And why not book university accommodation for that evening and walk with Refugee Tales the next day from Canterbury to Faversham. Booking is via the Refugee Tales website – As Ali Smith, the patron of Refugee Tales wrote ‘ we will work towards the better imagined’

16 May 2016
Refugee Tales book now available for pre-order

Comma Press are publishing the tales from Refugee Tales 2015 in June, but they are available now for pre-order. The Refugee Tales publication will be previewed at the Hay Festival on Saturday 4 June with appearances by the editors, as well as writers Patience Agbabi and Marina Lewycka. The book will be launched in London at the ICA on Friday 8 July at 7pm when Ali Smith will read ‘The Detainee’s Tale’, along with a guest performer we will announce in due course. The Kent launch of the book will be at the University of Kent in Canterbury on Tuesday 7 June at 5pm as part of the Whitstable Biennale.

In Refugee Tales, poets and novelists retell the stories of individuals who have directly experienced Britain’s policy of indefinite immigration detention. Presenting their experiences anonymously, as modern day counterparts to the pilgrim’s stories in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the book offers rare, intimate glimpses into otherwise untold suffering.

Shami Chakrabarti ‘Refugee Tales is a wonderful way of re-humanising some of the most vulnerable and demonised people on the planet. This collection is both challenging and poignant. Readers will surely be moved to move their leaders to action.’

Writers in the collection are: Patience Agbabi, Jade Amoli-Jackson, Chris Cleave, Stephen Collis, Inua Ellams, Abdulrazak Gurnah, David Herd, Marina Lewycka, Avaes Mohammad, Hubert Moore, Ali Smith, Dragan Todorovich, Carol Watts and Michael Zand.

You can pre-order the book by clicking here.

1 April 2016
Can you sponsor our marathon runners?

We have two very courageous runners in this year’s Brighton Marathon, raising much-needed funds for GDWG. If you are able to sponsor them we would be hugely grateful. Their Just Giving pages are here for Liv and here for Emily. Good luck guys!

24 February 2016
GDWG are recruiting for a new Director

After more than eight years at GDWG, Nic Eadie is now stepping aside as Director, and GDWG are looking to recruit a replacement. If you are interested in applying please head to our Jobs page for further information.

17 February 2016
GDWG awarded Big Lottery grant

GDWG are very proud to announce that we have once again been awarded a Big Lottery Reaching Communities grant of £363,500, spread over the next four years. This grant will continue the relationship we have had with the Big Lottery Fund over the past four years, and will allow us to move into the future with a solid financial base. We are hugely grateful to everyone who has helped us put together the application for this grant, which was a long and very thorough process.

10 February 2016
Refugee Tales 2016 launches today!

GDWG are delighted to let you know that our booking system is now up and running for Refugee Tales 2016. If you follow the links on you will find the bookings page. This year’s event starts with a Focus Day at the University of Kent on July 3rd, followed by a five day walk through Kent and parts of London, ending up in Southwark. The final evening of performance, on July 8th, will take place at the Institute of Contemporary Arts on the Mall.
There are lots of options from booking for the whole thing to booking a day or just coming to the very special Forum that starts Refugee Tales 2016.
If you have any queries of problems please email:

1 February 2016
Refugee Tales 2016

Inspired by The Canterbury Tales, and driven by a need for a new language of welcome, Refugee Tales tells the stories of refugees, asylum seekers and detainees alongside the accounts of those who work with them.

Walking from Canterbury to Westminster, and featuring stories at every stop of the way, Refugee Tales 2016 will feature Kamila Shamsie, Jackie Kay, Caroline Bergvall and Billy Bragg. Sign up to book a place to walk with us on the Refugee Tales website from 10 February.

Join us also for the opening Forum at the University of Kent on July 3:
‘Being Detained Indefinitely: A Day of Thought, Performance and Action’. Ali Smith, Patron of Refugee Tales, on ‘Transformations’, Marina Warner on the power of stories, and Shami Chakrabarti on the necessity of ending indefinite detention.

20 May 2015
'Cutting Justice' - Launch of GDWG research on impacts of legal aid cuts

Today GDWG launches the new report ‘Cutting Justice: The impacts of the legal aid cuts for people detained in Brook House and Tinsley House IRCs’. This report examines the impacts of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), introduced in April 2013, which brought about wide-ranging restrictions in access to legal aid for immigration cases.

The report finds that LASPO has had a significant and widespread impact for people in detention. Over three quarters of detainees surveyed would not qualify for access to free legal advice for some or all of their immigration case, regardless of means or merits.

We found that the cuts to legal aid have mainly affected people with an established private or family life in the UK: including those who have children in the UK, and those who have lived in the UK for many years. We also found that LASPO has had a disproportionate affect on EEA nationals. The research documents how private representation, self-representation and pro bono organisations have failed to adequately fill the gap left by the huge restrictions to legal aid funding.

Many people in detention highlighted the negative impact of the legal aid cuts on their emotional and psychological wellbeing: they described feeling stressed and powerless, and feeling that the cuts to legal aid were deliberately intended to demoralise them and encourage them to give up.

The report calls for immigration matters to be brought back into scope for legal aid.

Download the Executive Summary
Download the Full Report

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