I claimed asylum in the UK after escaping persecution and imprisonment in Uganda. I moved to Oxford where I became a healthcare worker at the local hospital. I worked so I could support my family who were also seeking asylum. While working at the hospital, I was found and arrested by the Home Office as my immigration status did not allow me to work and I was subsequently detained at Campsfield.
I was imprisoned in Campsfield for 9 months, though I did not know how long I would be held. One of the hardest parts of detention is the uncertainty of not knowing how long you will be there. While you are there you are not treated like a human. Conditions at Campsfield were at times inhumane, with people resorting to hunger strikes, self-harm, and tragically even suicide.
You are given a number and referred to by that number rather than your name. When you meet people from outside the centre, you are perceived and treated as if you are a risk to society – a dangerous criminal – when all you are trying to do is reach safety and build a life.
While I was at Campsfield I saw many people struggle to cope with depression and a system designed to break people down. My way of coping was to join a legal reading group, where we taught ourselves immigration law and supported each other to appeal against our detention. I was eventually released from Campsfield in February 2015 when my legal battle was successful.
I was granted refugee status later that year and I have since returned to being a carer in the community. My daughter is now at university here.