After months of delay, an official renaming of the facility and secrecy around the project, the Home Office has carried out its decision to turn a former site of abuse and shame, the Medomsley Detention Centre (also known as Hassockfield Secure Training Centre) into an Immigration Removal Centre for women.
Our initial fight to prevent the actual opening of this cruel and unnecessary facility is over. But our campaign is going from strength to strength. Here’s why our continuing demonstrations are so important:
No to Hassockfield member Alison writes: “On the first Sunday of this new year, in sparkling sunshine, I joined a large group of passionate campaigners at the gates of Hassockfield aka Derwentside IRC. We came to protest at the grim truth that ten women are now incarcerated in the building, transferred here just after Christmas from Yarl’s Wood detention centre.
Our work goes on to push for closure of the facility, but right now we must continue turning out at Hassockfield so that the women incarcerated there feel reassured they’ve not been abandoned by the outside world.
Groups taking similar action at other detention centres know from experience how they’ve helped to maintain morale and reduce detainees’ sense of isolation. So there we were, hoping our voices would reach the women.
We chanted ‘Set her Free’ and ‘Refugees are Welcome Here’. We sang ‘We shall Overcome’, a universal song that would be easily recognised inside the walls. And we held our banners and placards high, tying bright orange heart-shaped messages to the perimeter fencing and trusting they’d be visible from the prison windows.
In the weeks ahead, we’re confident that word of our support will reach the women and they’ll know the outside world has not forgotten them. But that means being there and not giving up.”