SDV committee member, Sarah Anderson, launches our new fundraising drive
I first stepped inside an immigration removal centre ten years ago. At the time I was an undergraduate in a university town in the south of England. The gap between life in the centre and my day to day life was unimaginably vast.
My days were busy, stimulating, surrounded by friends, in comfortable surroundings, often sat in a meadow or a pub garden. It was post Afghanistan, post Iraq, post 911 and we talked animatedly about politics and foreign policy and wars. All the while, only a few miles up the road sat men, only a few years older than us, who had been in those wars, or in lesser talked about conflict zones, or in places where they had faced persecution and violence. They had travelled here. In some cases made their home here. Had been active in their community. But now every day they sat and they waited, with no end point in sight. They tried to make contact with families, but only had limited access to phones. They tried to find a lawyer to take on their case, but didn’t know where to start. And they waited for a civil servant in a far-away place to decide their fate.
After I moved to Glasgow I wanted to get involved again in visiting, and found out about Scottish Detainee Visitors. SDV is an independent charity that seeks to influence policy on immigration detention and provides support to people detained in Scotland. SDV volunteers visit people in Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre twice a week to provide support: over 200 men and women in Dungavel every year.
Over lunch one day, I chatted to a friend on the SDV committee. She explained that while they had lots of dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers to visit people, there were other important ways to help. In particular, like many small charities, they needed help fundraising. The charity has only two part-time staff and survives on the incredible commitment of this team of volunteers. Despite this, money is still needed: to buy phone cards to enable people to call home and lawyers; to pay for transport to get the volunteers out to Dungavel; to provide emergency money for people being forced to leave the UK, who would otherwise leave with nothing.
Many of you will have seen the announcement that Dungavel will close towards the end of next year. But this does not mean that people in Scotland will no longer be detained. Far from it. Alongside the planned closure, the UK government announced plans to build a short term holding facility (STHF) near Glasgow Airport. Then last week the immigration minister said that if planning permission was not granted for the new facility, Dungavel would remain open. And we heard yesterday that the Renfrewshire Council had rejected the plans for the STHF. We do not know if the UK government will appeal this decision. Or if they will seek to build a new facility in another location. This uncertainty is difficult for us as a charity. But even more difficult for the people in Dungavel and others at risk of detention.
In times of uncertainty, your financial support is even more vital. Today we are launching our new fundraising drive. Here is how you can help:
- Donate once: Support our fundraising drive. Our target is to make £1000 through direct donations. Just £25 could pay for transport for up to five of our volunteers to offer support to people in detention. A larger donation could help towards training costs for our volunteers. But anything you are able to give would be appreciated. Donate here
- Make a regular donation: Even a small amount is useful. Just £5 could provide phone credit for someone held in detention, and in a year it would cover emergency money for two people being removed. The security afforded by a regular donation is invaluable to us. It enables us to plan ahead and to offer much needed reassurance to those people we visit: Donate here
- Put on a fundraising event: If you are feeling more ambitious, you could host a fundraising event in support of our work. It could be a bake sale, carol singing, or a movie night – you can be creative! If you are in a band and you already put on gigs, you could add 50p to the price of each ticket to help our work: Contact us if you want to discuss ideas
- Support our pub quiz fundraiser: On January 14th we will be holding a pub quiz fundraiser in Glasgow. You could come along or help with organising. Or could you, your business or your employer donate food and drink and prizes?: Contact us for more info
- Get sponsored: to climb a Munro, to run 10k, to do a bike ride. Contact us if you want to discuss ideas
- Shop through easyfundraising: If you don’t feel you are able to give money or time then you can still help as you do your ordinary shopping. Instead of going directly to online shopping websites, such as Tesco Direct, Amazon, Virgin Trains or John Lewis, access these sites via easyfundraising.org.uk and they will give a donation to SDV on your behalf. With Christmas coming up, your present shopping could really help us out: Register with easyfundraising
- And of course, you can help spread the word. It would be great if you could circulate this blog…via twitter, email, social media. Look for the Share Now buttons below.
With huge thanks from all at SDV for your support!