Many asylum-seekers find themselves in immigration removal centres, where they are detained by the Home Office at least in theory to prepare for their deportation from the UK. However, most simply spend days, weeks, or months languishing in prison-like conditions before being released back into the community. They have committed no crime other than seeking our protection, but nonetheless are treated like criminals.
Detention can be profoundly disorienting and leaves detainees feeling depressed, hopeless, and often very frustrated by their treatment in the UK. At this very difficult time in someone’s life we offer them various forms of support, but also the chance to be visited by a volunteer so that they have some small point of contact with the outside world and an opportunity to see a friendly face.
Many volunteers are Sudanese themselves, and some have been through detention when they were in the asylum-seeking process. We provide training and support year-round so they can carry out visits. If you are interested in volunteering to be part of the Sudanese Visitors’ Group, please contact us.
The group is part of the Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees (AVID) network. We also work to influence the policy debate on immigration detention as part of a network of over 30 organisations in the Detention Forum. We campaign to have a time limit put in place to restrict the time someone can be held in a centre to 28 days, as at the moment individuals can be held indefinitely, and without recourse to judicial oversight.