FAQs: AVID's response to coronavirus outbreak

Because of the current situation in relation to COVID 19  the AVID team is working remotely. You can still reach us via phone and email, but please don’t post anything to the office address at this time. We may take a little longer than usual to get back to you but please bear with us. 


Thanks for your patience and understanding at this time. 


We have created the below FAQs about our response to the COVID 19 situation and we will keep this page updated regularly. 


Are AVID members still providing support inside detention? 

In line with Government guidance and in order to avoid putting people in detention at risk, AVID members are no longer carrying out face to face visits at this time. This is because the risk of volunteers passing on the virus to people in detention, or contracting the virus themselves, is too great. We are continuing to monitor this situation in line with the latest guidance. 


What support is there for people in detention at this time? 

In most cases, AVID members are working with their volunteers to deliver telephone support, and where possible, skype support. While very different to a face to face visit, we hope that this will ensure people in detention know that they are not alone. Phone support will take exactly the same form as a visit, and will be with trained and supported volunteers. If you know someone in detention who would benefit from a listening ear at this time, please get in touch with AVID. 


How is AVID working to support it members during the outbreak? 

The AVID team has moved all of our supports and services online. This includes our extensive training programme, which is now being made available through zoom. We are holding biweekly Coordinators Support Calls, open to all members, as a way of supporting each other and sharing information. We have developed new training modules, and are running regular sessions on wellbeing and self care. 


What is the situation in detention just now? 

Latest figures (13th May) are that there are around 700 people still held under immigration powers. Around half of these are in immigration removal centres or residential short term holding facilities. The remainder are held in prison. Numbers in detention are at an all time low, but we believe no one should be detained. 

Unlike the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office is not publishing information on testing or the numbers of cases inside detention. So far, we know that there have been confirmed cases in both Brook House and Yarl’s Wood. 


What is AVID doing? 

We are calling for the safe, timely and managed release of everyone still held in detention. There is an abundance of evidence that the virus is a substantial risk in incarcerated settings. We believe people should be released into communities where they can be kept safe, and access the support they may need. We are continuing to gather evidence from inside detention and to ensure people can access support via our network of members. 


What can I do to help? 

We’ve had to make substantial changes to our work to ensure our members, and the people in detention they support, can still access our services and supports during this time. Many funders have paused their application processes or are diverting resources and as such, any financial support is appreciated. 

You can make a donation here. 

You can also join our calls for the release of all those in immigration detention. You can find more information about this here, and follow us on twitter for more updates @AVIDdetention