Banardos does some fantastic work to protect children in the UK. I worked for them in a very humble position myself, years ago. Which is why I’m particularly upset to see their involvement in running the newly opening detention centre for families and children at Pease Pottage. They will be working in conjunction with G4S (Group 4 security) who are currently facing possible corporate manslaughter charges after the death of Jimmy Mubenga during a forced removal on a flight to Angola. In 2010 alone, there were 700 complaints made against G4S, including assault and racism.
The last government announced the closure of the Yarl’s Wood detention centre (mainly women and children), saying it was inhumane and investigations showed that even short spells in detention prisons were deeply traumatic for children. Incidences of weight-loss, depression, bed-wetting, traumatised behaviour, nightmares and self-harming were common. Kids taken from school, from their homes in front of neighbours and friends, very often from the only homes they've known, to be bundled off to a prison without time to pack toys, clothes, say goodbyes.. The Children's Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley-Green said in his report that detention was harmful to children and should be stopped. After the 'End Child Detention Now' campaign, started by ordinary people and backed by more famous people with a bit of clout, the last government finally agreed to shut down Yarl's Wood in May this year.
But now we have a new government and with it, a re-branded imprisonment of children. The name is now 'Pre-departure Accommodation Centre' but it's the same disgraceful locking up of kids. There was an initial reistance among a few mp's but the involvement of Banardos has given it the veneer of care and compassion needed to get it through the planning process.
As one protestor says, 'Barnardo's endorsement has given this sham a fig leaf of legitimacy with the councillors who granted it planning permission expressing that they are reassured by Barnardo’s involvement.'
In fact, the former chief executive of Banardos, Martin Narey, slammed the imprisonment of asylum-seeking families as “unnecessary” and “shameful”. Out with the old and in with the new, it seems. If all decent children's charities refused to get involved in this shameful set-up, the centre couldn't open.
If anyone cares about this and doesn't want to see Banardos sully its fine reputation, they can send an e-mail messga eon their feedback form here.
“I am so scared of the Home Office. It is hard times for me and my mum. She would rather kill herself than go back." A child who was in detention.