It’s two years since a small number of women were transferred from a detention centre called Yarls Wood near Bedford, miles away from all they know, to a new Home Office ‘immigration detention centre’ in County Durham, opened specifically for women.
With no sense of how long they would languish there, they had deplorably bad communication links to the help they needed. But a local band of local people were eventually allowed to visit and to bring some succour to the women, who came from all over the world. And outside the entrance gates, come rain or shine over the next two years, people young and old, living close buy and much further afield, gathered on a Saturday to show the women they were not alone. And every month too, people of different faiths have held a Sunday vigil at the gates.
Today, to mark those first arrivals at Derwentside/Hassockfield, a special vigil was held. No to Hassockfield members brought flowers to the door of the IRC, a symbol of our respect for the courage and longsuffering determination of the incarcerated women – who hoped to find safety and a chance to rebuild their lives but found instead nothing but barriers.
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