By Mo*, 12 months in detention**
Detention in the Verne is like being stuck in an island, in an island, in an island, in an island. Your cell is the centre. It is where I am most lonely, forever.
I have been in the Verne one year. I am the asylum seeker. No-one tell me anything about the process of detention. No one tell me I would be here very long time. No one tell me nothing. The most I get is the monthly report. Every time the same thing – ‘we are making enquiries’, ‘we are trying to get travel documents’, ‘we are investigating’, ‘we decide we still detain you’, excuse after excuse after excuse after excuse. Nothing clear. No path. No way out of the Verne.
They never bring me removal directions and I am here 12 months. No ticket, nothing. They know they cannot remove me. So why am I still here? Don’t need to be locked up for them to find travel documents. And Verne is still a prison, for sure. It walks and talks like a prison. Big prison doors. Big prison walls. Big prison guards.
Here in the Verne, we say ‘we are a sardine tin in the sea’. It does not feel like UK. Or France. Or anywhere. We are lost.
The Verne has big effect on me. My physical body has been hit, I am feeling much weaker. I suffer from attacks – from guards and from other detained people who don’t understand people can be different. In my head, I am depression, anxiety disorder. I am stress, I am running wild. There is fear everywhere. If it is not for the deep sense of injustice I am feeling deep in my heart, I am kill myself long time ago. 100% this is about life in detention, 100%. Journey through asylum is of course very difficult, always, for everyone, but this…this is torture of the brain.
There are many people who should not be in the Verne. Many vulnerable people here. Mental health problems everywhere. My eyes keep dropping. I want to cry when I see what is around me. That government stop vulnerable people from detention is a lie. Here, all people has vulnerability. They should let us go.
Every time the library opens here, I am ready. I read the newspaper to keep my mind fresh. Sometimes I would read about detention.
Usually, when I read about detention I read about the taxpayer, the cost. They are not talking enough about the suffering, the abuse.
But this country is not like other countries. The politics at the moment, after Brexit – we are paying for it, the migrants. They say they locking up people only as last option. All these people can’t be in detention for ‘last option’! 30,000 ‘last options’? Every year? I had legitimate Section 4 bail application and they stop it so they can keep me in here. Why?
They say I must stay inside for ‘public good’? Outside the Verne I am good. Outside the Verne I am myself. Outside the Verne I am healthy. Outside the Verne I volunteer. Outside the Verne, I know it’s not easy. But inside the Verne, everyone loses.
I have lost confidence in the system. There is no transparency. No independence. It is difficult to trust people who lock you up like monkey in a cage.
They can’t deport me, so why not they let me go?
Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!
* The author’s real name has been changed to protect their identity.
** Since writing this piece, the author has been released from the Verne, their one year in detention – costing the author their mental health and the taxpayer £33,000 – seemingly serving no purpose whatsoever.
Picture credit: Patrycja Pinkowska