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A short film about Asylum Welcome's support of detainees

Why do we run this service?

For 25 years until its closure in December 2018, Asylum Welcome ran services for detainees held at Campsfield House Immigration Removals Centre, Kidlington, just outside OxfordOur staff and volunteers were frequently in Campsfield and we played an important part in safeguarding the welfare of detainees and facilitating their release.

People continue to be detained under immigration rules in other detention centres and prisons. Asylum Welcome remains concerned for their welfare and continues to offer a telephone advice from our main office and continues to be part of national networks monitoring detention including, since 2019, to foreign national prisoners held at Huntercombe HMP, as described below.

Huntercombe Project Aims

Our Huntercombe Project aims 

(i) to provide social visits and improve inmates’ welfare, drawing on Asylum Welcome’s vast experience with immigration detainees and our language base

(ii) to alert Huntercombe authorities about mental health issues

(iii) to link inmates to the outside world, including with solicitors and other external organisations in areas of need.  

COVID-19

Despite the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, there have been real achievements across the Huntercombe Project. During lockdown, for example, we were able to provide crucial face-to-face support to a highly vulnerable inmate and in June, we ran 8 video sessions with prisoners. From July onwards, the service was resumed more fully – through video calls and some exceptional face-to-face meetings.  

Going Forward

We continue to remain responsive and adaptable in light of the pandemic. We have learned a lot over the last months and have improved remote working. We are hoping to increase face-to-face sessions, in line with social distancing regulations and the guidance from the Criminal Justice system. Huntercombe volunteers continue to be recruited, specifically multilingual volunteers.

We now have 19 volunteers, including 5 office volunteers which greatly assists with the smooth running of the service. We are working hard to increase our presence at Huntercombe and to reach more prisoners. With the governor’s support, we are now producing a ‘rights guide’ so that prisoners know their rights.

Contact

-If you would like to get in touch please write to: Clara Della Croce, Prisoner and Detainee Project Coordinator, at: clara@asylum-welcome.org

-If you would like to volunteer, please write to: volunteer@asylum-welcome.org