Our Huntercombe Project offers befriending services to all inmates at HMP Huntercombe, regardless of their background or immigration status.
HMP Huntercombe is a category C male prison exclusively for foreign nationals. Huntercombe is often the last stop within the criminal justice system for a foreign national prisoner before ‘automatic deportation’. Hence, prisoners face unique challenges. They are often anxious about their unclear future once their sentence ends, i.e. whether they are going to be allowed to stay in the United Kingdom or are going to be deported. Deportation is sometimes to places where they have suffered persecution or to places almost unknown to them, some having left ‘home’ as children and never returned.
As foreign nationals, they struggle with language barriers as many do not speak English at all. Our volunteers and staff provide emotional and practical support to prisoners in their native language, liaising with the prison, lawyers, external agencies and on occasion with inmates’ families. This support in their own language is often of great comfort as they can really feel understood.
Our staff and volunteers have extensive experience in supporting immigration detainees. For 25 years until its closure in December 2018, Asylum Welcome visited and supported detainees held at Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre in Kidlington. Our work at HMP Huntercombe draws on this long experience with immigration detainees and our language base.