A new project has been launched to end the detention of children and their families for immigration purposes.
The Children’s Society and Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID) are working in partnership on the End Immigration Detention of Children and their Families (EIDOC) project, which seeks to provide advice and support to asylum-seeking children and young people in detention.
The project was launched as part of Outcry!, a three-year campaign to end the detention of children in the UK for immigration purposes, funded by the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. It seeks to raise awareness of the damaging impact detention has on children’s health and well-being. Children are often locked up for extended periods with little understanding of the reasons, and the campaign urges the government to review its policy.
Approximately 2,000 children are detained in the UK each year, either as the sons or daughters of detained asylum seekers and migrants, or because of disputes over their age. They are the only children in the UK who can be locked up indefinitely without having committed any crime. Outcry! believes that not only is their detention unnecessary, it causes severe mental distress with well-documented cases of depression and self-harm. As each child in immigration detention costs the government £130 per day, the campaign also feels that current immigration policy is a waste of taxpayers’ money.
The EIDOC Project enables those in detention and their families to access welfare advice and support from the Children’s Society project workers, whilst BID, an independent charity working to secure the release of detainees, is able to provide legal advice. The majority of service users are detained in Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, with some direct services also offered to those detained in Dungavel in Scotland. The Children’s Society advises and supports accompanied children and families, families split across the detention estate and separated children, as well as agencies and professionals working with these groups.