Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group (GDWG) are delighted to announce that Baroness Helena Kennedy QC has become Patron of the charity, alongside valued current Patron Lord Dholakia.

Baroness Kennedy is a highly distinguished barrister, broadcaster and peer, with a lifetime experience’s championing civil liberties and defending human rights.

Since 1995, GDWG has been working to improve the welfare and well-being of people held in detention at Brook House and Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs), and to advocate for change. The heart of their work is visiting: sending volunteers into the IRCs to see particularly isolated detainees on a one-to-one basis, providing a listening ear and emotional and practical support. The charity also assists with a range of other practical needs, and campaigns for a 28-day time-limit, alongside other members of the Detention Forum.GDWG assisted over 1300 people in detention in 2016, and is currently planning for the third year of its successful and innovative Refugee Tales project.

GDWG host their AGM tonight (Thursday 18th May) at a time when the Home Office is increasing the number held in detention in the IRCs next to Gatwick Airport. Unlike every other country in Europe, there is no time limit for immigration detention in the UK. People are sometimes held for years. Around 3,500 people are held in IRCs across the UK at any one time, without criminal charge but in prison conditions. It costs over £33,000 to keep one person in detention for a year.

James Wilson, Director of GDWG, said: ‘Baroness Kennedy is an inspirational figure and we are so proud that she is now supporting GDWG, at a time when sadly our work is needed more than ever.’