L* had been detained under immigration powers for over a year when he attended our legal advice workshop at Yarl's Wood.
For over 6 months after his release date, he was locked in a prison cell for over twenty-two hours a day during which time he struggled to access the legal advice he needed to apply for bail and appeal his deportation. He has been separated from his child for this entire duration.
After being transferred to a detention centre, he attended our workshop where he told us:
"It’s horrible in here. They don’t treat people in here like we're equals, they treat people horribly - the way they talk to them & deal with them in a manner like they’re not equal & don’t have rights.
The Home Office has treated me horribly, they know I’ve been here for so many years as a law-abiding tax-paying citizen in the community. Then all of this.
They don’t care that I have a child here that needs my support. I need proper rights, I need equal rights & justice. If they’d have looked at my case properly I wouldn’t be here.
I was locked in my cell most of the time & couldn’t access legal advice. I thought someone would come to help me but no one did. No one helped me.
Detention centres shouldn’t exist. The public needs to know it isn’t the worst people in here, some of the people in here are the best.
Being detained affects me mentally and physically. I’ve missed some of the best days with my daughter two birthdays & Christmas. I want to be there for her. Thinking about her is getting me through.
I want to go back and make everything possible for her. I so much want to be there for her. Kids are telling her she doesn’t have a dad. It affects her mentally too, physically, emotionally… everything. The first thing I want to do when I get out is to go & spend time with her."
T* has been living in the UK for nearly two decades. T’s landlord told him to work in a shop, but when he refused, his landlord threw his belongings out. T called the police to complain but instead, the police referred him to the Home Office. He was detained and taken to Yarl’s Wood where he has been for the past month.
“I’m living in dark rooms. Detention makes people depressed. I face problems outside. You know, I face problems outside but I was not depressed. Here, I have problems sleeping. There’s no pillow. I asked for a pillow and they gave me a very dirty one, so I rejected it.
Detention makes me feeling mentally lost. It’s like a prison, they treat me like a criminal.
Here they don’t respect asylum seekers, they don’t give respect like citizens. They treat us like criminals.
When I’m not in detention, I do competitions but I can’t do it here. I want to go back to cross fit and doing my competitions. I have a competition soon but I need to be out [of detention] for it, here I can’t practice properly.
Here we can’t get a driving license, work or study. The Home Office spoil our ambitions.
We visit Yarl’s Wood to deliver free legal advice every other week. If you’d like to contribute towards this work, we’re raising a solidarity fund to enable us to provide free legal advice and representation for L and T and many others in their position.