Volunteering with the signing & detention support project
We are looking for new volunteers who can have our phone (say a couple of days/one week per month) & support people going to sign at the Home Office.
You need to be able to check the phone a couple of times a day between 9-5pm, texting people just before they sign and just after they sign. Normally it’s a couple of people per week. There are also occasional calls/texts during the day from people asking for information.
This small thing makes such a big difference to people going to sign, knowing someone’s got their back and they are not alone.
Although it’s a different project, this video from a Bristol group does similar work
Why is this so important?
Whilst having the agonising wait for their asylum decision and go to court, people seeking asylum must regularly sign at Waterside Court in Leeds. This can be daily, weekly, every 2 weeks, monthly or every 6 months- the Home Office often change it to keep people on their toes. For many people there is a real fear of being detained so each visit is loaded with anxiety.
People seeking asylum have often had to flee for their lives and so there is often a high rate of mental health problems such as PTSD, anxiety and depression. The complex and stressful asylum process unfortunately exacerbates this. Imagine having to constantly prove your experience to officials who have no idea what you have just had to deal with.
We offer support by ringing the person going to sign just before and just after their appointment. It’s a very simple action but has a massive impact. Knowing someone is looking out for you gives reassurance that if you get detained, your supporters can act fast.
People can also ring us to ask for help with finding a good solicitor, chasing up solicitors, signing posting to other support organisations or just needing to hear a supportive voice.
There’s some useful information on signing here.
We also support people in detention by calling once a week to check in and help find good solicitors and befrienders.