It was announced with much jubilation in Scotland that the barbaric practice of locking up children in Dungavel was to end - what wasnt made clear was that rather than our childrens friends now being safe and secure, they were at risk of being shipped down to Yarls Wood at a moments notice. Yarls Wood is absolutely no place for a child.
8 years ago it was burned down, the authorities reacted to the fire by locking the detainees in the timber framed building;
7 years ago a comprehensive assessment found that the provision was "not safe";
6 years ago an undercover journalist found a culture where racist abuse and violent attacks were the norm
5 years ago the father of a 13 year old hanged himself in the institution
4 years ago Legal Action for Women found that women were subject to sexual harassment and denied access to their lawyers
3 years ago there was a hunger strike involving over 100 women after it was announced that they would be locked in their rooms for 12h per day and have no right to a mobile phone.
2 years ago, the prisons inspector raised concerns about the lack of healthcare for children detained in the facility; the lack of facilities for disabled children and the emotional state of the children in the institution.
Last year the childrens inspector found that children in the facility were at risk of serious harm of all forms, were handled violently and denied medical care.
There are currently 12 families with children locked up in Yarls Wood - a letter from them to Nick Clegg can be found here
In total there are two pregnant women and 14 children incarcerated - the youngest is only one month old - several of them have been born in the UK. These children and their parents need to be released immediately and should be the last to ever be held in a detention centre anywhere in the UK.
There is a limited amount that friends of asylum seekers and activists in Scotland can do now. It is likely that they will now be snatched at Brand Street and be taken straight to Yarls Wood, without their lawyers being notified as a different legal system exists in England - so they will need to find a new lawyer on arrival. We are asking for help from English activists to try to keep our friends safe and help them get out should they find themselves there. It can be done - several kids and their families have been released even after they have been taken there and given a removal date but it requires sustained pressure.
Please help the 12 families currently in there and any others that may end up there. I dont know the activist scene around asylum seekers in England, but hopefully some useful person can add links below and suggest the best ways to help anyone unfortunate enough to end up there.
Oh, and by the way, if you bump into the EDL give them a good kicking from me.