My first time visiting The Verne

This piece is written by Rahwa Fessahaye, Advocacy Co-ordinator at Detention Action
The first time I went to Verne IRC was in November 2014, a few weeks after I had returned from maternity leave. I was curious to see the centre as, up until that point, Detention Action had only run workshops in Harmondsworth and Colnbrook IRCs. Dorset felt like a world away. As a Londoner, I am perhaps more tolerant than most when it comes to schlepping on public transport, but The Verne is almost as remote an IRC as it gets. Getting off the train at Weymouth in winter set the tone for what would prove a fairly bleak experience. The town has the faded glamour of a seaside resort that, with the advent of cheap holidays abroad isn’t particularly lively in the summer, let alone in more chilly temperatures. My colleague and I walked along road after road trying to find a chippy/café/anything that wasn’t closed.
Once we had found something to eat we took a taxi from Weymouth station to Verne IRC, and got talking to the driver, who was born and raised on Portland. He was pleased that HMP Verne had been converted into an IRC as the closure would have been disastrous for the local economy. We discussed our work and what we did – that we provide practical and emotional support to people in immigration detention, who are being held there indefinitely. The driver seemed utterly bemused that people could be kept in prison like conditions with no release date. It was the first he’d heard of it. Clearly what was going on inside the former prison hadn’t fully reached those outside.
Detention Action has spent the last 20 years working in Harmondsworth and Colnbrook IRC, and we also visit some clients in London prisons. And yet, there was something entirely unfamiliar and strange about visiting the Verne IRC for the first time. It is run by the prison service, and the process to enter is similar to what it was when it was a prison. It is a sprawling estate, across a huge area. It took us a while walking through various interlocking buildings and going up and down various external flights of stairs to get the canteen, where we were to hold the workshop. There usually is a frenetic energy whenever we visit other IRCS: people rush up to you and try to get their story out as quickly as they can, they jostle for slots to sit down and talk with us to see whether we can help. The pace in the Verne IRC was sedate in comparison. There was a slow dribble of individuals seeking help, all with specific appointment times, which had been allocated by the officers once they signed up to see us. The numbers attending on that day was low – a problem we don’t usually face in other centres.
The initial calm of the workshop was, however, deceptive. Most of those who came to see us were EEA nationals, who are not eligible for legal aid or for an address from the Home Office which they can use to apply for bail. The majority wanted one and/or both of these things. The atmosphere turned tense as understandably angry and frustrated individuals asked ‘well how can you help then?’ It was the first time in my five years at Detention Action that I had been at a workshop where the majority of attendees were EEA nationals. Suddenly the nature of what we were doing changed. One client asked us to fax a regional court in Romania asking them to send some documents to him – not a request we usually have but we were able to assist. Another man from Latvia had lost his phone during the period which he was held in a police cell and then later imprisoned. Immigration detainees have no access to social media. He accepted that he was likely to go back and seemed fairly OK with this – his main concern was that he wanted his family to know he was going back so they could help him get back on his feet. We were able to Facebook his sister with his new number, which led to them being reunited. It is often the smallest assistance which can make a big difference, as clients face such practical barriers in doing things that we all take for granted on the outside.
We are not lawyers, we are a specialist organisation who can only help certain immigration detainees. So whilst it can be frustrating for both the individual being detained and us when we cannot provide what they tell us they need, we are also in the fortunate position to provide at least some assistance to those people in Verne IRC who want it. Namely, we can listen, we always listen. We try to absorb the frustration and the anger. We listen when someone tells us that they want to hurt themselves, when they feel there is no point in living.
Many of the individuals we work with cannot find a solicitor at Verne IRC due to unacceptably huge delays in getting an appointment. It is a similar size to Harmondsworth IRC and yet has half the number of slots available. To add to the isolation, it seems as though video link appointments to see a lawyer may be introduced. So not only are you stuck in a remote part of the country, where your family struggle to ever visit, but now you have to explain your life story over a TV monitor.
More recently we have seen a broader demographic at Verne IRC, including many asylum seekers at the end of the road. Many with deportation orders, struggling to get help. What do you do if you get a removal ticket and cannot get to a lawyer in time? I haven’t been given a satisfactory answer to that. People here often beg to be moved to another centre, as they cannot access legal advice easily. Sadly, this is the reality of the Verne.
I have often wondered why the uptake of services at Verne IRC is lower than elsewhere. Do those incarcerated there feel that they are so remote, so invisible, that nobody cares? If I felt that Weymouth was a bleak experience (and I had the freedom to come and go as I pleased), I cannot even imagine how it feels to be locked away, up in the hills of Portland, on the edge of everything.
 

The Verne IRC: detention on your doorstep

As well as shining a spotlight on the very specific physical sites of detention which make up the UK’s detention estate, ‘Unlocking Detention’ is also about highlighting the ways in which detention impacts communities outside. With this week’s focus on The Verne, Detention Action picked up their mic and asked three locals from Weymouth, the town adjacent to the IRC, what they felt about having a detention centre on their doorstep.

'There are few visitors here': the Verne, immigration detention on an island

Verne 1By Pat, a member of the Verne Visitors Group and Detention Forum volunteer
Above the Chesil Beach
It’s difficult not to think about location. Bus number 1 from Weymouth city centre goes towards Portland Island, the southernmost point in the county of Dorset. The island is tied to the mainland by a long barrier beach: formation made up of sand, slit and pebbles. Chesil Beach stretches alongside the road; water glitters dotted with sailing boats, kites and windsurfing boards. On a sunny day it feels quite cheerful; walkers alongside the road, people getting on and off the bus to appreciate the beauty of this stretch of the Jurassic Coast. On a rainy day the bus is almost empty. Whatever the day, if you look up and towards the left, from a distance you will see a big stone gate, the entrance to the Verne citadel.
The Verne Immigration Removal Centre is the newest addition to the UK detention estate, and a big one. Since September last year 580 migrants can be housed on a site of a former military barracks. Built in the second part of the nineteenth century, the citadel became a prison in 1949 and was turned into an immigration removal centre in 2014.
In our survey, only 19% of detainees said they had a visit from family or friends since arriving at the centre, against comparator 43%. (HMIP Report 2015)
The visits area has been refurbished and is very comfortable. However detainees have few visits by friends and family because of the isolated rural location and the distance from the station. It is an hour’s journey from Weymouth to the IRC, by bus and a steep uphill walk of over a mile; there is no courtesy bus. (IMB report 2015)
This feeling of isolation is exacerbated by the inadequacy of public transport and is experienced acutely by many men locked up at the Verne. ‘You are the only person that have ever visited me’, I have heard that many times this year. The visitors’ room is usually quite empty, with just one or two other families, couples or friends talking quietly. There is no support for families wanting to visit loved ones at the immigration detention centres even though for many of them this is the time of high stress, when they are threatened with indefinite separation.
So I walk up the hill and cross the stone gate. I am pat searched and asked to empty out my pockets, my details are carefully recorded and ID checked. Not the most pleasant procedure. Only then I can enter and share stories in a quiet, almost empty visitors room, watched over by a number of CCTV cameras and officers.
‘How can locking people up in prison not be a punishment?’
Verne 2 from HMIP report
 
 
The centre still looked and felt like a prison and there was an unnecessary amount of razor wire, much of which had been put up since the centre became an IRC. (HMIP Report 2015)
The above quote from the HMIP report published this August describes the Verne well: it looks and feels like a prison. Many men who are locked up here appreciate small but important differences: access to a mobile phone, limited access to Internet, being able to walk around the courtyard during the day and visit friends in different wings, access to the library, the shop, the faith centre. Having own room with a key is an important thing as well. In the end however nothing can change the desperation felt by a person locked up in a place surrounded by fences and barbed wire; the ultimate deprivation of freedom.
So ‘how can locking people up in prison not be a punishment?’ asks Hamid, when we talk about life at the Verne and UK immigration system. I struggle to answer and yet this is how consecutive governments repeatedly frame immigration detention: a non-punitive administrative measure; non-punitive hence not requiring judicial oversight. What is surprising is that so many of us living in the UK are susceptible to feeble answers given by the ministers.
The ‘unnecessary amount of razor wire’ that was installed at the Verne when it was changing from category C prison into immigration detention criminalises migrants in the eyes of the public but also sends a message to the people inside, message that sometimes angers men I speak to and sometimes genuinely confuses them; what is this security for? I am not dangerous; I just want to live my life. Why am I punished for being a migrant?
I have met many people at the Verne who shared their stories, fears and frustrations with me: a student whose visa was not extended despite the fact that he hasn’t finished his degree and his family invested so much to send him to study in the UK; men whose asylum claim was refused but who were too afraid to return to the countries they left seeking safety; men who lived in the UK for years and have partners and children, often all families here, but are who after serving a sentence for more or less petty criminal offence are threatened with deportation to countries they hardly know and haven’t considered home for a very long time, or never.
When do I get out of here?
Too many detainees did not have a solicitor. (…) Only 27% of those who had one said that they had received a visit from them against comparator of 45%. (HMIP Report 2015)
Detention in the UK is indefinite; there is no time limit on how long one will be locked up for. The HM Chief Inspector of Prisons during his visit at the Verne met 39 people detained for over a year and one detained for over five years. Some of the men I visited have been at the Verne for months, having gone through many other detention centers before. Some of them have now been moved to detention centers closer to the airport. This was months ago. We still talk; we’re still not sure what is going to happen next. Limited legal advice, arbitrariness of bail hearing, arbitrariness of home office decisions causes frustration and exacerbates the feeling that there is no justice for those in detention. The hours turn into days, days into months and sometimes into years, and with no exit date to look forward to, people’s mental health deteriorates and the feeling that there is no hope steadily creeps in. It’s difficult not to give up when one is completely alone and realises that there is no exit door anywhere to be seen.
The feeling of remoteness and loneliness as one takes the steep path up the hill or drive up hairpin turns of Verne Common Road towards the tunnel, which hides the detention centre buildings, makes it is easy to imagine that this is a place where one can be forgotten for a long time.
Verne 3
This blog post quotes from 2 reports published this year:
The report on an Unannounced Inspection of The Verne Immigration Removal Centre by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons published in August 2015
The Annual Report by The Independent Monitoring Board for The Verne, Portland, published in September 2015

Prison under immigration powers: a plane crash

Prison under immigration powers: a plane crash
These piece was written anonymously for #Unlocked15 by a member of the Freed Voices group – a group of experts-by-experience who are dedicated to speaking out about the realities of detention in the UK and campaigning for detention reform.

I am originally from a country in West Africa. I was trafficked as a young boy and taken to Eastern Europe. My captors locked me in a basement, fed me like a dog, and beat me.
I escaped my traffickers with the help of a man who knew them well. He took the passport my traffickers had made illegally so that I could work for them, and gave it to me. I didn’t know anything about borders. I didn’t know anything about asylum. I didn’t know anything about passports! I had never held one before in my life.
When I got to Heathrow airport, border control just let me pass through. That just reconfirmed what I already thought – that my identification was genuine.
A few years later I left the UK to visit the man who had helped me escape my traffickers. I went to Europe to meet him but when I came back into the country, and went through passport control again, they stopped me. They told me my passport was fake and they arrested me. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t understand what was happening. Looking back now it’s almost funny because I argued, I really thought my passport was real. I didn’t even know it had been obtained illegally.
I was charged with possession of false documents and held in prison on remand for five months. It was very, very difficult for me. It was hell. I was very scared. I tried to commit suicide several times.
Finally, I went to court. I was sentenced for 18 months but because I had already done five and you usually only do half a sentence, I had four months still to do. It was around the same time that Prince William married Kate. I remember, everyone was so happy.
When I still think of it today, I still can’t believe I survived prison. I had never even stolen a sweet before. And yet, I found myself in a Category A prison, alongside murderers and hardcore drug-dealers, people with firearms convictions.
I spent my whole time inside counting down the days until my release. I saw people lots of people freed when their sentences were finished. I had no reason to think it would be any different for me. I was always looking forward, always thinking what I would do the moment I came out: I’d go back to school, continue my studies, start to integrate again, get in contact with my old girlfriend…I had plans.
Finally, the day came. I was excited, wondering whether I was going to leave early in the morning, or in the afternoon in front of everyone. I packed all my stuff up. I sat, imagining how I would walk out the gates.
It went past three, four o’clock and I was still sitting in my room so I asked a guard what was going on. He went away for a bit to find out then came back and told me I wasn’t going anywhere. I was being detained in prison under immigration powers, and I would be given a deportation order to remove me from the UK.
It was like a plane crash.
They didn’t tell me how long I would have to remain in prison for, or what was next. There was no legal advice. There was nobody to tell you your rights. I don’t think the prison guards even knew what it meant for me to be ‘detained’.
I started to think I would be there for ever. It felt like there was no way out. I started to doubt myself. ‘Maybe I did do something wrong? Maybe I am guilty.’ Nothing made sense. I saw people who had serious, serious crimes get shorter sentences then me and leave when those sentences finished. Why was the balance of justice so heavily weighed against me? Why was I being punished again? Because I was black? Because I was foreign?
I began to ask around and met other guys who were being kept in prison after their sentence had finished. Some had been there for one, two years.
I felt there were similarities with my treatment by my traffickers back in Eastern Europe. I was still being locked up like an animal. I was still being treated without respect, without dignity. Again, I had no control.
All of my traumas came back. All of those suicidal thoughts, night-terrors, flashbacks, they all flooded back. After two weeks or so, the prison guards had to call immigration because they said they couldn’t deal with me anymore.
Usually when people finish their time in prison they are released back into the community and given a probation officer. When I was released from prison, I was transferred to detention – she was my probation officer. First, they moved me to Colnbrook IRC and kept me there for over a year. Then they moved me to Harmondsworth for more than a year Then Haslar for three weeks. Then back to Colnbrook for another year or so. I was altogether 37 months in detention.
Still, those few weeks in prison under immigration powers after my sentence finished stand out. I can’t even tell you how excited I was to get out of prison, how high my expectations were at that point. And how low they fell after being told I wasn’t going anywhere. I felt my life shatter in front of me.
In that moment, my faith in British justice vanished. Even now, when I read newspaper headlines about how ‘this person is guilty’ or ‘this person has been sentenced to X years in prison’ I always doubt it. Did they really commit a crime? Did they really do anything wrong? What’s the full story here?
The latest immigration statistics show 373 people were held in prison this year under immigration powers. Many of them have done something wrong, all of them have paid for it with a loss of liberty. But being foreign isn’t a crime. You can’t continue to punish someone just because they don’t have the right colour passport.
This figure sends out another message: we, the British government, will always side with a British criminal, however serious their crime, over a migrant, however light their crime. This is a question of politics. Migrants who have a criminal record are hot property. They are political commodities. The government just wants to say we deported ‘X’ number of foreign criminals the year. Nobody explores the human stories behind those figures. No-one is interested in finding out about what those those crimes were or why they were committed.

'Detention is everywhere'

21 September 2015
This is a write-up of the Right to Remain annual conference which took place on 5th September 2015, which originally appeared on their website. While #unlocked15 ‘visits’ physical places of immigration detention, let’s not forget ‘detention is everywhere’. You can read the original version with great photos and tweets here.
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“It always seems to be your annual conference”, one of my friends commented recently as conference-organising anxiety started to spill over in the days leading up to the big event. This year’s conference – the second as ‘Right to Remain’ but the twentieth as an organisation – was going to be bigger than ever. And, we hoped, better than ever.
Several people commented about how ‘timely’ the conference was, but it always seems like that. Migration is always going to be topical. In the weeks before the event, we thought we would once again have to frame the day by talking about the ‘dark times’ we are living through (which we are) … but the sudden outpouring of solidarity from the British public in support of people seeking a better life meant there was a positive side to current events as well.
Together we are stronger
The conference was an opportunity for people to meet, network, learn, share knowledge and skills and information, to meet friends, make friends, build networks, build solidarity.
We welcomed groups and individual activists/supporters who had travelled from all over the UK – Belfast, Glasgow, London, Exeter, Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, Rotherham, Sheffield, Dover, Newcastle, Bristol, Oxford, Malvern, Cheltenham, Slough, Birmingham, Coventry …. and many of our attendees had previously travelled many, many miles to seek sanctuary and security in the UK
First up was a session on ‘what can we learn from and how can we work with other struggles for social justice?’. We heard about the long struggle for LGBT+ equality; workers’ rights, especially the rights of migrant workers in the UK; and the housing movement in London fighting back against unjust government policies and unfair treatment by local councils and landlords.
CheltFems (who even by attending our conference are a good example of uniting our struggles!) wrote in their blog post about the day:
Living in what’s probably the whitest town in the UK [Cheltenham] I’d never really considered the connections between the struggle to secure affordable housing and immigration raids. Exploring these links and setting them within a broader political context was a revelation to me; the theme throughout the day very much seemed to be to find parallels between different struggles, and to build solidarity between campaigns.

And then we heard from members of the audience – are there other struggles we can link up with? Is this already happening? What echoes are there from past struggles and present ones such as the civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter, the fight for women’s rights? And how we can be stronger as a movement fighting for migrant rights. It was an extremely lively and thought-provoking debate, only halted by an urgent need for lunch!
A solidarity tour of the UK (in one room)
In the afternoon, the conference was organised into geographical locations. Participants from those areas got to meet ‘visitors’ from elsewhere – by using their pretend travel tickets produced for the exercise, the cause of much bemusement at first – and talk about how detention affects their local community, and what is being done to protect and support individuals at risk.
This session explored how detention happens in places where detention centres don’t exist, and reinforced that this is a crucial injustice for all communities to tackle, and for MPs representing those communities to take seriously. For example, detention operates in many places through Home Office reporting centres, immigration raids on homes and businesses, stop-and-search raids. People are held under immigration powers in prisons, a kind of ‘hidden’ detention. There are short-term holding facilities. Bail hearings are heard at tribunals with otherwise little connection to detention (like Stoke-on-Trent and Newport). Detention is everywhere.
After the groups had finished their discussions in their allocated geographical location, we did a whistle-stop tour around the UK to hear what had been shared.
Overwhelmingly, we heard how the risk of detention affects so many communities across the UK – the Manchester group reflected on many people going into hiding through sheer fear – the damage that detention does, and the lack of support once people are released from detention (and over 50% of those detained are released back into the community) often to an entirely new area of the UK. The Midlands group shared that when someone is detained, it isn’t only them that is affected – “shockwaves go through the community”.
We heard how people seeking the right to remain could be picked up in Newcastle, then taken to Scotland to be detained, and the negative impact this has on their legal case due to their England-based lawyer not being able to operate in Scotland. We heard of Glasgow residents detained then released on bail to an address in England, where none of their support networks exist and where legal aid provision is far more restricted, particularly for family/private life claims based on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
We heard about the challenges of supporting people at risk of detention who live in Belfast, where communities are already starkly divided. And the barriers to visiting someone detained in the Larne short-term holding facility, as a specific type of ID is required that many refugees do not possess.
Most importantly, we heard what groups are doing to support and protect people at risk of detention, in detention, and after release.
We heard about the importance of people knowing the risks of being detained, and from the Liverpool group of the need to have an action plan that can be put into place immediately if someone is detained (which only works if ‘signing support’ mechanisms are being used’).
Connections were made between strategies. For example, the Wales representatives were able to share their experience of successfully campaigning against reporting at a police station with a north-east group who are currently campaigning around reporting centre issues.
Local action to change national policy
We need changes to the immigration and asylum system – to the operation of the system, and the policies, rules and laws behind it. To do this, we need to persuade the politicians, the MPs who make the laws. This can be approached in various ways.
The approach we looked at in the final session of the conference was building local campaigns. We believe that this approach can be the most organic, dynamic and democratic way to organise, and the most effective in gathering support, and bringing pressure to influence MPs, either directly or indirectly, to make the changes we need.
MPs listen to their local constituents. Local constituents can persuade MPs to push for positive change. This is more likely to happen when there is broad, popular, local support for change – demonstrating that it’s truly a priority issue in the local area, and that it’s more than just a minority of directly-affected individuals and concerned activists calling for change.
In addition to gathering local public support from individuals, local campaigning can benefit from support from councillors, political representatives in devolved government (Scotland, Wales, N Ireland), community and faith groups, anti-racism networks, social justice campaigns, tenants and residents associations, trades unions, celebrities, positive local media coverage and so on.
Attendees got to choose whether to discuss campaigning for LGBT+ issues, women, against detention, destitution and Fortress Europe.
As well as hearing about local strategies to challenge injustice – such as Bristol campaigners asking their local council if they were happy to have homeless children sleeping on the streets, which would be the result of asylum support cuts – the discussions delved into the complex causes of migration, and the UK’s responsibility for these causes.
And as our friend Abraham said, in his wonderful way with words:

You don’t set fire to someone’s house and then tell them not to run.

We felt energised and inspired by everyone’s sharing and thinking and connecting during the day. Thank you to all those who emailed, tweeted or told us that they had learnt a lot during the day, and were feeling inspired. Thank you to everyone who travelled from far and wide to make the conference such a success. We’ll end with the words of our vice-chair, who closed the conference:
I feel motivated by the ideas I’ve heard today … I hope the conference spurs us on. The tasks ahead will always seem daunting if we see ourselves as individuals, or even as individual groups. Together we can keep up the fight against social injustice.

How did Unlocking Detention start?

20 September 2015
Welcome back to Unlocking Detention tour. This year’s hashtag is #unlocked15, and we look forward to making new friends and opening more people’s eyes to the reality of immigration detention in the UK.
For those who are unfamiliar to Unlocking Detention – it is basically a virtual tour of immigration detention centres over Twitter. A team of the Detention Forum members, volunteers and associates act as ‘tour guides’ and take you around each detention centre for a week.
We started Unlocking Detention last year in 2014. Its popularity took us by surprise (and also the huge amount of that had to go into it…) that we never had a chance to explain how this wacky idea came up in the first place. We also never had a chance to thank the organisation whose work became the inspiration for Unlocking Detention.
Enter Zimbabwe Association!
Many people know about the work of the Zimbabwe Association and its long history of fighting for the rights of Zimbabwean people who are seeking asylum in the UK. However, not many people know about their ‘tongue-in-cheek’ one-off magazine called ‘Serco’.
Have you ever seen it? It looks like this.
unlockedorigin1
Two years ago, I was hanging around the Refugee Week event in London when I bumped into Sarah Harland, the Co-ordinator of Zimbabwe Association. Sarah gave me a copy of ‘Serco’ with her usual smile and just said ‘Read it!’.
Superficially, the magazine looks like a lifestyle magazine with features such as fashion, travel, cuisine and art – but as you turn the page, you realise that it is not what it appears to be.
One section is called ‘how to spend it’ – and instead of being about spending fortunes on luxury items, it’s about the harsh reality of how asylum seekers could spend their weekly subsistence money of £35. There were three challenges. The first challenge is that £35 is all you get for a week, and that’s not just food but also toiletries and anything else you might need. The second challenge is that the Azure cards are only accepted in certain supermarkets and not street markets where items are cheaper. The third challenge is, at the time of the publication, you were not able to carry any amount of credit that you did not use on the card to the following week. So you had to do mental arithmetic to make sure that you use up all the money, down to the last penny.
But what really captivated me was the magazine’s ‘travel’ section.
‘Want to visit different parts of the UK? One option is to enter the detention centre system, which is easier than you think!’
With the three-tier rating system of ‘undignified’, ‘harrowing’ and ‘worse’, some of the detention centres are given ‘reviews’, presumably those who have been held there.
For example, the review of Pennine House, a short-term holding facility at Manchester Airport says;
‘The food was actually edible, often quite good, and the internet actually worked! It didn’t have a lot of limits you sometimes find – you know, where sites you need to fight your case have been blocked, that sort of thing. Some people even had single rooms, and there was a vending machine that gave out free Pringles. So unusual that we weren’t sure if it was a fault, but don’t ask questions – free crisps!’
The one for Colnbrook detention centre near Heathrow Airport says;
‘There were some educational courses on offer, including things like basic computer skills and art. You’ve got to be careful though – a few places specialise in activities that distract from fighting your case, so go easy on the finger painting! On the downside, walls in the rooms were smeared with graffiti written in blood and excrement. The priest was felt to be particularly unkind, but then his chapel was a bare room with windows painted on, so you probably would be too! This place was felt to be the worst stay by far: all centres are scary, but Colnbrook was genuinely terrifying…’
It is indeed true that many people have never been to any of the detention centres, but for some communities, immigration detention was almost a shared experience, a secret travel destination. Much information about immigration detention is also available in the UK – yet few people actually read these numerous reports about immigration detention that are published year after year.
Like my colleagues, I have always been of the opinion that if only people knew what immigration detention was like in the UK they would want to take action against it.
And after some detours, the idea of travel around detention centre estate turned into a ‘tour’ and Unlocking Detention was born.
While many people who have been supported by Zimbabwe Association are now settled in the UK, other remain caught in the asylum and immigration system. Their research ‘Legacies of Detention’ shows that experience of detention affected their community members’ attitudes towards Britain and the law.
As thousands of people continue to be detained every year – and equally thousands of people released from detention every year – we can’t help but wonder what the impact of immigration detention is on the whole of the UK where citizens and non-citizens alike live side-by-side, often connected by solidarity and support. And this year’s Unlocking Detention aims to hear more from these communities. So stay tuned!
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If you would like to support the work of Zimbabwe Association, you can donate here.