We live in York among families who have fled persecution. Our children play with children who have been incarcerated in Yarl’s Wood high security immigration removal facility, in Bedfordshire.
There’s a two-year-old we know whose mother was rushed into detention without him. He stayed with his aunt, crying continually, for the four days it took the Home Office to reunite them. He spent three weeks with his traumatised parents behind razor wire in Yarl’s Wood.
One 12-year-old girl remembers her little sister’s second birthday in “the camp”. “It was not a good day. The guards shouted at Mum so loudly, Mum and my sister cried the whole time.”
Two thousand children are detained each year. These families have committed no crime. They can’t abscond – where would they go? This whole life-wrecking process serves no purpose.
Extreme psychological harm is done in our name to families who have already known terrible hardship. Many parents have experienced torture in their home countries. For them, arrest and detention here unearths past horrors.
We’re asking readers of The Press to join us in a national campaign to End Child Detention Now.
Please sign our petition at petitions.number10.gov.uk/NoChildDetention/ And please write to your MPs, asking them to sign Chris Mullin’s motion urging the Government to stop detaining asylum-seeking children and their families. Sample letters to MPs are on our website at ecdn.org.
We believe the Government will listen. If enough people join us we can End Child Detention Now.
Esmé Madill and Dr Simon Parker, Co-ordinators of End Child Detention Now, Heslington, York.