Experiences of visiting

“I was by myself - I had no friends in this country, no family, nobody coming to talk to me...But after I contacted Gatwick Detainee Welfare Group, and they sent me a visitor, I was really happy to talk to someone from outside...

We talked about everything. I would tell her about my family, about football... 

Really, she's like my mum now. I really care about her because she cares about me. I have no words to explain about her..."

Abel came to the UK  in 2005, aged 17 and was detained twice, in 2005 and 2012. He now has refugee status.

“I didn't know how I was going to feel about this visitor…but she came and she was the loveliest woman I've ever met.   I'd lost my sense of being (in detention) and she helped me see that there’s something on the other side, that I needed to not give up on fighting for what I believe in, for who I am.  She gave me that hope…”

Simone was detained in Yarl’s Wood IRC in 2012 and supported by Yarl’s Wood Befrienders.

“The difficulties about visiting are not so much the  visits, although they can be really difficult if somebody is upset or their story is really horrific, but their experience in this country, because the asylum system is really awful…the fact of putting them into detention is such a shock to most people.

The most difficult (thing) is to see people treated so badly by the system and to have so little you can do to make it better for them. The legal avenues are limited and getting more and more limited, and they are treated really harshly."

Charlotta is a volunteer visitor with Asylum Welcome and has been supporting detainees at Campsfield House IRC for over nine years



“The thing I will take with me all my life from visiting is the experience of meeting people with such courage, such bravery, and sometimes, serenity, in coping with so many difficulties.

People who have no knowledge of where their lives are going, and are perhaps being sent back to further danger, and yet still have faith that it will all work out, and that they will survive. 

Martin has been a visitor with Gatwick Detainee Welfare Group for 17 years.