On 4 October 2023, we joined Scottish Detainee Visitors for their October volunteer evening, which was fuelled by biscuits and cups of tea. Scottish Detainee Visitors is an organisation which offers non-judgmental social, emotional and practical support to people in Dungavel immigration detention centre. Volunteers who visit people in detention provide information, signposting and support, and stand in solidarity with people who are detained.
We were invited to speak at this volunteer evening to share Right to Remain’s resources with volunteers. We shared the Asylum Navigation Board, the newly-updated Young Asylum Guide, and the Right to Remain Toolkit.
We highlighted that each Toolkit page has a PDF function, so volunteers can print out specific pages to bring to a person in detention. We then did an interactive exercise using the Toolkit – in which volunteers found answers to specific questions by typing keywords into the ‘search bars’ on the website. The Toolkit is a resource that can be used to help answer specific questions about asylum and immigration in the UK. The aim of this exercise is not to treat the Toolkit as something to be memorised, but as a resource to dip into for answers and to share with others.
Volunteers then shared stories about people they are visiting in detention, and the issues they are facing around criminal convictions and not having enough access to legal advice. There are some important differences between the way the system works in Scotland and England – in Scotland, the process of applying for bail is different. We also spoke about what ‘suitable’ accommodation means in the context of applying for bail.
Volunteers shared that it can be nerve-wracking visiting people in detention and not knowing the answer to every question – but that with the Toolkit as a guide they would feel more confident.
Thank you to Scottish Detainee Visitors for having us. Get in touch with us at Right to Remain if you’d like us to speak at your event, or run a workshop!
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