Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group was set up in 1995 when the UK Immigration Service began to detain people at a small holding centre near Gatwick Airport. The following year, Tinsley House Detention Centre was built, and we became a registered charity. We work to improve the welfare and well-being of people held in detention, by offering friendship and support and advocating for fair treatment.
A new detention facility at Gatwick, Brook House, opened in March 2009. Brook House operates alongside Tinsley House, and both centres are currently run by Group 4 Security (G4S). GDWG supports people held at both centres. Between 2011 and 2016, the Cedars Family Pre-Departure Accommodation operated in nearby Pease Pottage, holding families for short periods before the Home Office removes them from the UK. Cedars is now closed. A new unit for families is due to open at Tinsley House later this year.
GDWG has now grown to around 70 volunteers, who visit and befriend asylum seekers and people held in immigration detention at Brook House and Tinsley House. The group believes that each person held has a right to be treated with respect and compassion, whatever the outcome of their case. We also have a small staff team who manage the volunteers and provide support and advocacy to detainees.
We are non-party political and do not represent any vested interests. We use our own insight into the experiences of people held in detention to try to improve conditions, inform policy and challenge negative images of asylum seekers and other people held as part of their immigration process, both through our own work and by networking with other organisations who provide support, such as the Association for Visitors to Immigration Detainees, Detention Action and Bail for Immigration Detainees. We are also participating members of the Detention Monitoring Group and Detention Forum.
This audio/visual slideshow was commissioned by one of our former funders, the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, and shows the work of three of our visitors.
Do you belong to an organisation in the South-East that would like to find out more about immigration detention?
If so, we are always pleased to provide a speaker from our group to come and talk about our work. We also have specially trained speakers to deliver talks in schools. If you would like more information, send us an email.
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