Why we help
It’s difficult to imagine being locked up in a strange place indefinitely without family, friends or a connection to the outside world – often with little understanding of the language or the system.
But unfortunately it’s often the reality for people being held in immigration detention.
Who can be detained?
People in detention have different stories. Approximately 30,000 people are detained each year in the UK.
Anyone who needs permission to enter or remain in the UK and is subject to immigration control can be detained.
Many people who have been detained have claimed asylum at some point. People can also be detained if they breach the terms of their work, travel or student visas or have entered the country illegally.
The government says that certain people should not be detained except in very exceptional circumstances. This includes people with serious mental and physical health conditions and people who have been tortured. Worryingly, our experience is that these people are often detained.
How long are people detained?
There's no time limit on how long someone can be detained in the UK. The Government says that it should be used sparingly and for the shortest period necessary. However, in reality people are often incarcerated for long periods - for months and sometimes years.
Understandably this de-humanising situation makes people feel frightened, isolated and depressed. They have no idea what is going to happen to them.
What can you offer? Support and a reassuring smile.
Our volunteer visitors are frequently the only familiar face people see who is not connected to the immigration service. They are therefore a vital source of reassurance, comfort and help.
Want to help?
Find out how you can get involved.