Support solidarity visits to immigration detention

By SOAS Detainee Support

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Right now...

2,930 people are locked up in immigration detention centres across the UK, without charge or trial, for indefinite periods of time. People are wrenched out of their families and communities, often detained in raids on their homes or workplaces, or picked up on the street. The detention system is violent and incredibly harmful, and these centres have become notorious sites of mistreatment and human rights abuse. Working class people of colour, like in the prison system, are significantly overrepresented in immigration detention.

What are we doing about it?

Volunteers with SOAS Detainee Support visit people in detention every week, reducing isolation and offering practical support to stop deportations and quicken release.

Since 2005, we have worked alongside hundreds of people whilst they are held in detention and after their release. In the last 12 months alone, we have worked in solidarity with just over 100 people in detention. More and more people in detention are getting in touch with SDS and requesting visits. This autumn, we’ll be training a new cohort of visitors to be able to support more people in detention. But to keep the visits going, we need your help.

Why now?

Hostility to immigration is growing. Administrative detention has become increasingly normalised. Immigration detention is now a cornerstone of the UK’s ‘hostile environment’ for migrants. As such, the way that detention is used is changing: people are held for longer periods, and rough sleepers from within the EU are increasingly being targeted.

In an austerity climate, different organisations are plugging the gaps created by public service cuts. Because of this, grant funding for small grassroots groups like ours is hard to come by. To sustain our work and meet the demand for visits over the next six months, we need to raise £7,000. Crowdfunding is the only way we are able to do this quickly.

What your money will do

  • £5 will buy phone top-up for someone in detention to call lawyers, family and friends.
  • £12 will fund one solidarity visit to someone detained at Harmondsworth or Colnbrook.
  • £23 will fund one solidarity visit to someone detained at Yarl’s Wood.
  • £1,170 will cover all of our running costs for one month, including travel costs for visits, training to equip new visitors to support friends inside, resources and planning for workshops and campaigns, and living-wage remuneration for our two part-time coordinators.

We work ethically on a shoestring

  • Visitors often use their own funds to support people in detention. We estimate that this amounts to several thousand pounds a year. However, we believe that no-one should be excluded from acts of solidarity for financial reasons.
  • Visitors are trained volunteers. They do the bulk of casework requested by people in detention.
  • We pay our two dedicated part-time coordinators the London Living Wage.

Come and meet us!

We’re running workshops throughout the year and will be holding a BIG all-day training for new visitors in October 2017.

We’re also holding one of our renowned RELEASE! fundraising parties on October 5th 2017.

More information about SDS is on our website and on Facebook or Twitter @sdetsup.

To get involved or talk to us, email [email protected]


To hear the voices, experiences and demands of people held in immigration detention, have a look at the Detained Voices blog.

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SOAS Detainee Support