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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.

16 November 2017
New GDWG report published

Our latest report, written by Dan Godshaw, is published today. The report looks at those who arrive in the UK as children and go on to be detained. You can download the full report and policy briefing from our resources page.

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.’

16 March 2015
GDWG response to the Detention Inquiry report

Please find a link to GDWG’s response to the report by the Parliamentary Inquiry into the use of Immigration Detention below. GDWG, along with many other organisations and individuals, submitted evidence to the inquiry, and are pleased to see some strong recommendations in their subsequent report. Primary amongst these is the recommendation that there should be a 28 day time limit on detention.
Response to Detention – Inquiry Report
A link to the full report can be found by clicking here

2 March 2015
Book Now for Refugee Tales

Refugee Tales is a walk in solidarity with refugees and detainees to celebrate Refugee Week. Taking inspiration from the Canterbury Tales, prestigious writers are collaborating with refugees and ex-detainees to write Tales of the refugee experience. Booking is now open both for the walk: and for the final reprise of the Tales at the Hawth Theatre on 21st June 2015:

Walkers can book to join for the entire walk from Dover to Crawley or for single days and each evening of the journey, contemporary writers will read refugee tales in free performances. The final evening of the walk when the walkers will arrive in the Hawth Theatre to be welcomed by the Host – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown – is a ticketed event (£15 and £10 concessions). Writers working on Refugee Tales include Ali Smith, Marina Lewycka, David Herd, Chris Cleave, Inua Ellams, Abdulrazak Gurnah, and Patience Agbabi.

See you there!

7 November 2014
Refugee Tales Launch

Today is the launch of The Refugee Tales. Book a place on the walk to celebrate Refugee Week next year through the website Follow @RefugeeTales on Twitter. ‘Like’ The Refugee Tales on Facebook.

Caroline Lucas MP pledged her support for the walk on launch day “This is a very special project, with an important symbolic message. It provides a chance to pause, and walk a while in another’s shoes. Around the world, millions of men, women and children are displaced from their homes; forced to flee the traumas and injustices of war, poverty and disasters. Refugee Tales ensures they are remembered, reminds us that those millions are all individuals just like us – and that we can each do something to help.” Miriam Margolyes gave her support “Now, more than ever, we should send loving support to the modern Pilgrims, who remind us of the struggles and hardship people suffer to come to Britain, to find a new and safe life.”

Those walking the entire walk will be offered the option to stay with the walkers in simple accommodation, vegetarian food is provided and the cost to walk the entire route with entry to evening performances of the Tales is £165. Day walkers can sign up for £5 a day. The walk ends with The Ex-Detainees Tale and a reprise of many of the Tales performed at The Hawth Theatre in Crawley on 21st June at 7.30pm. We invite participants to walk their support for refugees in the UK and be part of a positive news story created from the real stories that Gatwick Detainee Visitors Group visitors hear.

29 October 2014
The Launch of The Refugee Tales is coming soon!

Not long now until the launch of The Refugee Tales: A walk in solidarity with refugees and detainees from Dover to Crawley via Canterbury. We’re walking our support for Refugee Week in 2015. Our walk is eighty miles over eight days with one rest day from 13 to 21 June 2015. It follows the route of the old Pilgrim’s Way and is modelled on The Canterbury Tales. At each of the stopping points on the walk there will be readings and performances of tales connected with the refugee experience commissioned from well-known writers and poets. By walking from Kent to Surrey along an ancient track, we will collectively establish the fact that journeys are integral to our landscape, that they provide the stories out of which our shared histories emerge. This is a walk reminiscent of the Canterbury pilgrims and it is inspired by journeys made by countless refugees, many on foot fleeing war and persecution. Details of how to join the walk or how to volunteer to support the walk will follow. Watch this space for the launch of The Refugee Tales.

10 October 2014
Mayor of Crawley visits GDWG

Our thanks to the volunteers, staff and outreach committee who welcomed the Mayor of Crawley, Councillor Brenda Smith, to The Orchard this week on Tuesday. Thanks everyone for cooking the delicious lunch and for sharing experiences of visiting people enduring indefinite detention and detained at Brook House and Tinsley House. Thank you to the ex-detainees who travelled from London to describe their experiences in detention. Your reflections were vivid and compelling. Thank you to the Mayor for visiting Brook House to meet a man from Sri Lanka detained over a year and for giving him encouragement during a long visit. Thank you to the Mayor for a positive response to our description of the Refugee Tales project to celebrate Refugee Week next year.

17 June 2014
We celebrated Refugee Week

We celebrated Refugee Week with comedy, music and drama…all held together by compere Paul Kerensa. After a fiery start from punk poet Attila the Stockbroker, Sajeela Kershi from the comedy circuit shared her experience visiting a detainee in Brook House then John Ryan entertained the full Studio with hilarious observations of modern life.

The first half closed with Ifield Community College and Drummers conducted by Patrick Allen and comprising fourteen nationalities from Crawley’s diverse population. The Chagossian drummers who have been settling in Crawley since 2004, amazed the audience with a piece they had written just that week. The theme of Refugee Week “Our Shared Future’ puts a spotlight on refugee children at a time when fifty per cent of the world’s refugees are children and young people.

Second half highlights were Mike ‘Dr Blue’ a folk, roots and blues guitarist and singer and ‘itinerant fringe nomad’ Sameena Kershi. Young people from Hazelwick School then took to the stage for a powerful performance that had grown from a drama workshop with ex-detainees. Their drama ‘Island’ brought many to tears. And just when Paul Kerensa was winding up the show he was swept from the stage with a wave of singers storming from the audience to perform Labi Siffre’s ‘Something Inside so Strong’ flashmob style. The Orchard Choir sang with conviction as a fitting finish to a celebration of Refugee Week.

31 March 2014
The Second Longest Day

‘The Second Longest Day’ is coming to The Hawth Studio on 10 June 2014 at 7.30pm. Come along and see Paul Kerensa, the writer of ‘Miranda’ and other great comedy from Sajeela Kershi, John Ryan and Sameena Zehra. Music from Mike ‘Dr Blue’ and Ifield Community College Choir and Drummers. Bridges Arts Group and students from Hazelwick School will bring thought-provoking drama to the stage and we are delighted to announce that Attila the Stockbroker is completing the line-up, back by popular demand. Look out for Sheila Hancock, and be ready for a few surprises too!

This is an eclectic mix of comedy, poetry, music and drama celebrating Refugee Week and the contributions that refugees make to our lives. Tickets are £15 with £10 concessions available from The Hawth Box Office : 01293 553636. But this event is selling fast and will soon be ‘Returns Only’!

30 January 2014
Community banner making project

GDWG is proud to present a community banner making project. Volunteers, detainees in the art class in Tinsley House, ex-detainees and school children from Pound Hill Junior School in Crawley have been making a quilt on the twin themes of showing the hand of friendship and also reflecting the journeys that refugees and asylum seekers make to seek sanctuary in the UK.

The banner will be on display in Crawley during Refugee Week and organisations interested in sewing their logos onto the border of the banner to show their support for GDWG should contact Anna (

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