Finding a visitor…
If you are a detainee or supporting someone who is currently detained, you can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are in frequent contact with detainees and ex-detainees feel free to distribute our flyer: LEAFLET
Becoming a Visitor…
SOAS Detainee Support mainly visit people who are being held in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre near Bedford. We visit in two groups; every group has at least one coordinator, new visitors are paired up.
Visiting can be difficult: visitors may work with people who have been through multiple traumas both in their home country and the UK. However, every visit is different as everyone experiences detention in a different way. There are many positive things visitor can do. Sharing emotional support and being someone on the outside who can be relied upon in a hugely difficult and isolating time is extremely important.
As a group, however, we also aim to give more practical support, which can require greater commitment and time. As unqualified volunteers we absolutely cannot give any legal advice, but there are many other things we can do. Apart from basic things such as bringing necessities like toiletries and phone credit, we can explain the asylum process and help navigate it with the people we visit. We work with detainees to connect them with the medical, legal and other professionals that they need to help them with their asylum case, help them get out of detention and assist with many other problems. Visitors might help someone find a good solicitor, put them in touch with an independent doctor, help them raise money to pay for expert evidence in their case, or help them find bail sureties, to name just a few things.
To be a good visitor you need to be committed and be able to give your time. We support each other as a group on practicalities and emotionally, so there is no need to worry if you lack knowledge of the immigration system or asylum process when you start – you will pick up what you need from other visitors, and from the training and resources we provide.
Although there is relative flexibility and diversity in how a visitor fulfills their role, by visiting with SDS you are signing up to a certain ethos as outlined in our aims. Thus we should say the well-being of the detainee is of utmost importance to us as a group. So if you feel for a variety of reasons, be it time or emotional instability, you are not able to handle the responsibility you must inform the Paid coordinator speedily so that he/she can find a suitable replacement timely. Furthermore if it has come to light that as a visitor you are not fulfilling your responsibilities or are acting inappropriately you might be approached by the coordinator. Please understand this is merely to limit harm to the detainee and the reputation of our organisation as a whole.