The remarkable woman pictured was detained in Yarls Wood Detention Centre near Bedford, but did not let her experience defeat her.
Mostly, campaigners fighting the detention system can only deal in numbers. But we never forget every number is a person, with a story. And every story reflects on how broken our asylum system is.
One person whose story we know really well is fearless Agnes Tanoh, from Women for Refugee Women. Agnes has been a regular attender at our monthly demonstrations. She has just won a well deserved award for her work as a campaigner.
Who ends up in Hassockfield/Derwentside?
Why do women caught up in the immigration system find themselves in danger of removal from this country?
- Many not have been able to provide sufficient ‘paperwork’ to prove their right to stay as refugees – though often with sufficient legal help they get released on bail.
- For other women, a spell in prison, however petty the crime, means they’re classed as foreign national offenders and can be deported – if the government can find a country willing to take them.
- A further group of detainees are, like so many caught up in the Windrush scandal, women who’ve lived here since childhood and never properly registered, or were brought here by menfolk or traffickers, who then did not register them correctly on arrival. Years later, often out of the blue, the Home Office labels them irregular immigrants.
In all cases. the numbers we’re talking about are small – the IRC has had very low occupancy ever since it opened in December 2021. Although the IRC’s location means visitors hardly ever make it to see detainees, we believe many of the women in the IRC have been in the UK for years, with families and solid community support elsewhere in the the country. Just like Agnes.
Read her inspiring story here and learn how for our campaign, one number in the statistics became a precious friend to No to Hassockfield.
This story is not about a woman, but Michael’s experience will mirror many others in Derwentside who have experienced prison.
And finally –
Read many more first hand accounts in the extraordinary website 7 Doors, the product of seven years 0f research by photographer Greg Constantine.
We are privileged that one of our actions is featured in the UK section.