Our network of visitors provide friendship and practical support to people who are living in detention in the East Midlands.
While we do not provide legal advice, our volunteers offer practical information and signposting to a range of specialist services.
And crucially, we provide emotional support to our clients – often acting in the place of family and friends, who may struggle to visit the centres we work in due to their remote location.
At the same time, MHVG advocates for the rights of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and people in detention in the East Midlands.
As members of the Association of Visitors to Immigration Detention network, we feed into their wider advocacy work that highlights the realities of immigration detention.
We also educate and inform the public about the historical and current experiences of people in detention, and the broader legal situation for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in the UK. By raising awareness of these issues, we aim to promote more tolerance and understanding in the Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire areas.
Being in immigration detention almost always has a detrimental impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing. In November 2019, HMIP reported that 71% of people detained at Morton Hall felt depressed and 29% felt suicidal. The experience of detention can be especially retraumatising for those who have fled violence and persecution, or for people who have been victims of human trafficking.
By providing emotional support and befriending services, we hope to support our clients as they navigate challenging circumstances. Having a friendly, empathetic and non-judgemental person to speak with can make a difference to people’s state of mind when experiencing detention. And for many of our clients, our volunteers will be the only person they come in contact with who is not in a uniform.
Moreover, wider research has long supported the idea that visits have a positive impact on people in immigration detention. A survey by the Refugee Council of Australia (2017) found that people in immigration detention overwhelmingly report that visits “reduced their stress, caused emotional relief, gave them mental solace, and hope about the future.”