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Activists disrupt Barnardo's fundraiser at Royal Albert Hall over child detention

No Borders | 23.04.2012 23:18 | Migration

No Borders activists took to the stage this evening at a prestigious fundraising concert organised by Barnardo’s in protest at the charity’s collaboration with the UK Border Agency in detaining children.

Barnardo's Young Supporters Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, where children from different schools take part in a mass choir, is a regular event to raise funds for Britain's biggest children's charity.

In the latest protest against the organisation's involvement in a new family detention centre in Sussex, two activists walked onto the stage and unfurled a banner reading “Barndardo's: 'We believe in [locking up] children'”, mocking the organisation's slogan.

One of the activists who took part in the protest said: “It is incredibly cynical and hypocritical of Barnardo’s to use children to raise funds that it then uses to pay for facilitating the imprisonment of other children. Barnardo's staff and supporters should be ashamed of its involvement in child detention.”

A member of the audience, suspected to be a Barnardo’s employee, soon jumped on the protesters, in a frenzied rage out of place, and ripped their banner, calling them 'scum'. The protesters were removed by aggressive security guards after a few minutes.

The action was the latest in a series of protests by anti-detention campaigners trying to dissuade Barnardo's from providing child welfare services at the Cedars family detention facility, near Crawley. Campaigners argue that the charity's involvement in the facility, officially described as 'pre-departure accommodation', is utilised by the government to legitimise the continued use of detention for children, which the government promised to stop doing in 2010. [1]

The converted school has all the characteristics of a detention centre but the name. With a 2.5m perimeter fence and 24-hour security, it is run under the Detention Centre Rules by the notorious security company G4S, which runs three other immigration detention centres. [2]

In July last year, Barnardo's set 'red lines' for its involvement in the pilot scheme, in what appears to have been a desperate attempt to reassure critics of its controversial decision. The conditions included withdrawing services if more than 10 percent of the families deported in the first year of the trial went through the centre; if any family has stayed at the centre more than once or for longer than the one week maximum; or if disproportionate force is used with a family on route to or from the centre. [3]

Campaigners say many of these conditions have been breached repeatedly but Barnardo's is 'simply ignoring' that and refusing to listen to anyone. Many families have reported suffering from trauma and being subjected to verbal abuse and physical assaults by the security guards. At least one family is known to have been held at the centre for over one week.

A recent investigation by the UKBA’s Professional Standards Unit into allegations surrounding the actions of Reliance security guards found that inappropriate force had been used in the case of one individual deported from Cedars.

A statement by Barnardo's said the charity has “raised our concerns about this directly with the Minister and have asked them to ensure that Reliance addressed their member of staff’s conduct.”

The statement adds: “When Barnardo’s decided to provide the welfare and care services at Cedars pre-departure accommodation, we also committed to speaking out if the level of force used with a family on route to or from the [centre] was disproportionate to family circumstance.”

Describing the statement as “cheap PR”, a spokesperson from No Borders London said: “The charity's condition to enter the contract was to withdraw its services if these conditions were breached, not to 'speak out' and write to the minister.”

This is not the first time that Barnardo's has been the target of protest over child detention. Since Cedars was opened, campaigners have picketed and leafleted staff and customers at various Barnardo's charity shops. In February this year, a group of activists occupied the charity's headquarters in Barkingside, Essex in a bid to speak to the chief executive Anne Marie Carrie about the organisation's involvement with child detention. Barnardo's managers refused to talk to them and instead called the police to remove them by force. [4]


For further questions, please contact:
Email: noborderslondon[at-]
Photos available on request.

Notes for editors:

[1] In May 2010, the new coalition government 'committed' to ending child detention for immigration purposes as part of a "new, compassionate approach to family removals." However, while families with children due to be forcibly deported are no longer held in normal immigration detention centres, they are instead placed in new secure facilities, euphemistically named 'pre-departure accommodation', until they are deported. The first such centre to open last summer was Cedars in Pease Pottage, near Crawley, West Sussex. For more on this and other planned family detention centres, see

[2] Families and children held at Cedars are arrested and administratively detained under the provisions of the 1971 Immigration Act. They are subject to the Control and Restraint Techniques used across the detention estate. Detained children are only allowed out of the facility under strictly controlled circumstances. This clearly amounts to a continued use of the detention of children for immigration purposes. For more on this, see

[3] See

[4] For more details on previous protests against Barnardo's, see

No Borders
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Hide the following 23 comments

poor target

24.04.2012 07:32

I do think it's a bit harsh on these kids. Singing at the albert hall will for many of them be their most treasured memory, and they will feel the guilt over this when the corporate bods won't.

Poor target imo.


Nice one!

24.04.2012 07:54

Hey - well done you lot. Not an easy task to get up in front of all those angry parents. Hope no-one got hurt by the security. Solidarity!


Well done!

24.04.2012 07:59

Brilliant action!


Very Well Done!

24.04.2012 09:08

This I support because I know for a fact that most of these 'charities' are run for the benefit of the employees, rather than the children, aged, animals, etc.

They target the bleeding hearts with politically acceptable campaigns and ignore those who really need help because it might rock the boat.

Charities only have to donate a small percentage of the money they collect.

Good to see someone is challenging this grubby little scam.


Absloutely superb!

24.04.2012 09:12

Well done London No Borders a brave target.

As to the the suggestion that it was a poor target made by the first commentator...
(funny how the first comment is almost always negative or disruptive on UKIMC some people are very studious in their observation of site they appear to despise?)

..Barnardo's provide the veneer or legitimacy to these child prisons. It is precisely because UBKA and G4S can hide behind Barnardos "good deeds" that Barnardos supporters (of all ages) need to wake up to the abuse of children their organisation condones.

Incidentally did anyone else notice that Barnardos are one of the companies signed up to exploit forced labour through workfare?

Bob from Brizzle

re: poor target

24.04.2012 09:16

I doubt any kids were traumatised by people holding a banner and informing the audience about Barnardo's less savoury side. As opposed to the children locked up in the detention centre they run, with G4S. Those children will be scarred by that experience forever.
Also, it's very patronising to suggest that young people aren't capable of assessing situations, having opinions, being thoughtful, questioning the status quo and their own privileges.


Mixed feelings about this protest

24.04.2012 09:22

We were at this event, as my daughter was on stage. We spent quite some time on the way home talking about the disruption, trying to figure out what it was about. Its only thanks to Google that I now know.

While I think its good for Barnardo's legitimising of the Governent's shameful behaviour to be highlighted, I understand the position of other parents who were annoyed that a children's concert was targetted. Apparently some of the younger children were quite scared by the disruption.

I can't see why the children participating should feel any guilt whatsoever about taking part. Surely any guilt lies with Barnardos for letting schools get involved with a charity that, unbeknown to them, is involved with contraversal practises.

BTW, I know one of the people who pulled the banner out of the protesters' hands & they are definitely not a Barnardos employee.


Re: mixed feelings

24.04.2012 09:32

The guilt does indeed lie with Barnardo's for profiteering from the border regime, and cynically using events like the concert last night as a media-friendly cover for their far shadier activities. The children participating in the concert have a right to know that they're being exploited, and that the money they are helping to raise is going towards locking up migrant children. Perhaps parents who witnessed the protest might be able to use the opportunity to speak to the schools and encourage them not to work with Barnardo's on any future fundraising?


re: mixed feelings

24.04.2012 09:42

I can see how parents might be annoyed by any upset to their children. I just want the parent commenting above to know that we have repeatedly tried to have an interview with Barnardos' chief executive, have taken our arguments directly to their head-office and been refused any contact beyond that of their security guards. Barnardos are the nicey-nicey face of child detention, G4S is their brutish and violent partners in the project.
We will continue to take our protest wherever Barnardos peddles its hypocrisy, because we DO care about children.


suffer the little children?

24.04.2012 10:55

I can see no reason why any child on the stage should feel guilty about taking part - the protest wasn't directed against them and the children I know would be horrified that other children are being locked up. Hopefully a lot of the other parents who were present will try and work out why the protest took place and explain it to their kids.

Whether or not the guy who ripped the banner out of peoples hands was a Barnados employee*, there was no reason to resort to violence, regardless of the fact that he thinks it appropriate to make a stand FOR locking up kids.

*I too suspect that some of the comments that appear here are not genuine, but are part of a systematic attempt to attack posts on this site .

also a parent

No "frenzied rage"; bad judgement to target a young children's event

24.04.2012 21:12

What a bizarre and ill considered attempt at protest. To target a fundraiser featuring young children had the opposite result from that presumably intended. And as a witness, there was no "frenzied rage" from those trying to stop the protesters spoiling the children's special night; they just moved the protesters from just below where all the children were standing, totally confused, and the banner was crumpled up.
If you want to make your views heard, please target the politicians and the CEO of Barnados; don't sabotage an evening where children were practising all day to sing their hearts out to help other children less fortunate than themselves.

A Barrett

Response from the audience.

24.04.2012 21:13

My daughter was on the stage last night, at the front just behind the protesters. She had worked hard for weeks and was very excited believing that she was helping other children. As a result she came away very scared and unsettled by the events and it spoilt what should have been a very happy childhood memory. I have no issue with the right to protest and draw attention to Barnardo's involvement with the detention centre but why did it have to be done at a cost to innocent, hard working children. Surely an intelligent protest outside the hall would have arisen more interest and far more sympathy rather than the protesters undermining their cause completely in my eyes by the clumsy spoiling of a children's concert? Incidentally My daughter's response was that they were bad men who spoiled a good cause. I told her not to jump to conclusions, find out why they were protesting and think about it. I did also stress to her however that there is a right and wrong way to do things and in this instance it was handled appallingly badly.

a Mother

@ a Mother

24.04.2012 22:53

"but why did it have to be done at a cost to innocent, hard working children..."

Families are being deported to war zones with the help of Barnados. Please get some perspective. If you care about children other than your own, you should appreciate that this is a little more serious than a momentary disruption of a concert. If you don't like these tactics, how about starting a campaign of your own against Barnardos using alternative means?

The above commenter is right, if you follow the link in the article you will see that there has been a series of less disruptive protests against Barnardos as well as attempts to meet with senior members of staff, which have simply been ignored.

Well done to all involved - Barnardo's, if you care about your reputation I would pull out of Cedars now.

D Locke

@D Locke

25.04.2012 08:11

I maintain that the children did not deserve to be scared by these tactics. Are you suggesting that they did?

I am not saying that there shouldn't have been a protest, I am saying that it was an inappropriate protest. As for accusing me of not caring about children other than my own, did you read my comment properly, that I have discussed it with my daughter and explained that the protesters had their reasons for acting the way they did?

Incidentally I have contacted Barnardo's because I am concerned in their involvement. While I imagine this might help those in favour consider the protest a success, I still consider it to have been a highly inappropriate sabotage of a children's event.

A mother

@ a mother

25.04.2012 12:43

I would suggest you are a bad mother if all you care about is your own children at the expense of others. I really hate Middle Class women like you who talk about activism providing they don't really have to do anything.

D Locke

Agree with "D Locke"

25.04.2012 13:19

Your comments are incredibly selfish, your little Ffion or Rupert being a tiny amount upset is nothing compared to the suffering that some children endure because of Barnados.

I'm not sure you are even fit to be a mother with an attitude like that. Sod off back to the tennis club with the other Daily Mail readers.

A mother who cares

Barnado's - gaolers of little kids and traumatised parents.......

26.04.2012 07:17

The unacknowledged truth in all of this is that the fact the critics are even engaging with you means you are fulfilling your aim as a proponent of non violent civil disobedience. You are taking your role in the narrative. You are putting your case into the melting pot of worldviews for discussion and debate. All there is to do is keep on keeping on. There is a reason that phrases like ‘you can’t evict an idea whose time has come’ resonate with people. You can silence one person, you can jail however many you like, but so long as the conversation for them and their Movements exists, they threaten the status quo......exactly, as they had intended in the first place.

‘We Sympathise with your Cause, but...’ - Non Violent Civil Disobedience in the 21st Century

Little Tabitha is apparently traumatised cos some guys held up a banner at her concert for the 'charity' that locks up little Ahmed. But Tabitha's mummy doesn't think Ahmed is a real child with fellings just like Tabitha's.

a job well done

Where does class come into it?

26.04.2012 08:05

Do the latest commenters not feel that their occupancy of the moral high ground is somewhat undermined by the prejudice they reveal?

Are you trying to say that all all middle class people are selfish, or all selfish people are middle class? It's not made clear.

For the record, the list of participants in the programme lists far more Ahmeds participating than Tabithas, Ffions or Ruperts.

It's true that ‘you can’t evict an idea whose time has come’, but you can do a great job in preventing it from spreading by telling people to sod off back to the tennis club



26.04.2012 10:03

"(funny how the first comment is almost always negative or disruptive on UKIMC some people are very studious in their observation of site they appear to despise?)"

Actually no I'm a committed anarchist who bothers to think and speak up about people outside my own clique.

I was musical as a kid, performing at the albert hall would've been the biggest moment in my life to date, and if anyone had come up on stage with a banner denouncing the event I was performing at, yes I would have felt guilty. So would virtually every kid involved. It's absolutely ludicrous to suggest that a big crowd of kids could have their event targetted and not feel any guilt. Yes I understand you don't THINK or WISH your actions were targetted at the kids. That really doesn't change a single thing.

Here's an example. I was watching a programme the other night that interviewed a taxi driver who'd been mugged at gunpoint while at work. They asked him what he was feeling, experiencing, and his first response was 'guilt'. He was mugged by 5 or 6 people wearing masks and holding guns and knives, and he felt guilty for what had happened. But no, you're right, it's the responsibility of the children performing at this concert to make the leap and understand that it's the company being targetted and not them.

To the people defending this action - do you think more animal hurt has been relieved than child hurt caused? And who are you to make that call? I understand that you made attempts to get an interview etc etc, but if the right course of action is blocked, that doesn't make bullying kids a legitimate option. I can't believe I have to explain that to anyone. It seems that considering the feelings of a bunch of innocent kids is pretty unfashionable these days.

I'm not one of those who argues against any action and ultimately maintains the status quo. I believe in all forms of action to achieve justified ends. It's hardly unusual that an action reported on here is unable to reach the people it really should be targetting - that's the basis of our society, the people in control are so far removed and defended by a wall of people that it's virtually impossible to actually reach them in any effective way. What I found unusual enough to comment negatively, was this decision to protest a bunch of kids singing and their proud parents. This is like PETA showing up in that south park episode. This is where people build their stereotypes of us.



26.04.2012 10:05

Yes the children in camps are far more the victims than the kids up on stage. But I don't see how this action in any way helped the kids in camps, so it's pretty redundant when people get angry about prioritising middle class white kids. What you really reveal is that you are happy to target kids, and blame middle class children for their upbringing.


Jailing children is bad for the Barnado's Brand

26.04.2012 12:37

"But I don't see how this action in any way helped the kids in camps"

Of course you don't.

The target was Barnado's. Have a look at their website and see if they mention their role in detaining kids awaiting deportation to abusive regimes.

Once they understand that their fundraising shindigs will be targetted for as long as they are performing this role, they may well decide not to lend the enterprise their name any longer.

NGOs are part and parcel of the corporatist oligarch state


26.04.2012 13:02

i am a single parent of two children who attend primary schools in london. my eldest was invited to take part in this concert. she asked me "what's barnardo's"? so we went to the library and goggled them. we came across various websites telling us about their history, and two that mentioned them being involved in the detention of children. my daughter decided she did not want anything to do with these people, and asked for my support in telling the school that she didn't want to do the concert. they agreed as long as she didn't tell any of the other children about her reasons for pulling out.

any of the parents/children who took part could have found this information out for themselves with very little effort, as we did. if any of the parents posting above feel regret at taking their children along then they should take responsibility for it themselves, for allowing their children to be used in this way by barnardo's, for faling to check what they were letting their children get involved in, and further should be glad that they now know the truth about what's going on in this world a bit clearer thanks to these protestors. this was an opportunity for our children to LEARN some real lessons about the world, nothing scary about that at all. if adults failed to explain the protest properly to the children and left them feeling scared that is not the fault of the protestors, who i admire and feel grateful to.

please keep up your good work, i and my children may well be joining you soon!

a parent

the children at the concert

26.04.2012 13:25

If the children are upset (and i very much doubt a brief interruption and banner drop has caused any kind of trauma), surely their parents need to be seriously re-considering letting their kids participate in this kind of cynical corporate fundraiser. As the last comment suggests, if parents want to find out Barnardo's are all about, it's not difficult to do so. Also, angry (though not surprised) to hear that the school stifled your daughter's dissent.


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