Tuesday, November 29, 2005

you put your right foot in...

...I'm fortunate in that I'm able to work part time in a job that I love. It feels like a luxury, and in some ways it is, but the reality is that I do need the time to recharge my batteries (metaphorically and otherwise!) and take care of tyres, PA's and so on. I've felt lately, that I've had just slightly too much free playstation time to myself. My job is socially useful I think; its important to me to participate in my community. The masters is on hiatus til February and I can only obsess about moving for so many hours a day...


So it was good news when an opportunity to contribute something local came up - visiting people who are detained as part of their application for asylum. I wasn't going to blog about this, I thought it couldn't be that there were that many places where people were detained in this way.

Wrong wrongity wrong. Currently nearly 3000 people are potentially detained - this may be increased to 4000. Going round the centre, there's a sense that the staff are doing their best. People seemed to be treated with respect, there were books, tv's and so on. But the idea of locking people up, who have often struggled to get here, seems unduly cruel and unusual.

There's a lot of rubbish written about people who are seeking asylum in the UK. The Refugee Council busts many myths here and here. The website of the Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees is another source of information.

Biased information, perhaps. I can't work out whether we should accept everyone. Its been argued that the UK is getting quite crowded. I definitely don't think that locking people up is right. I think that the answer to reducing the number of people seeking asylum in the UK is to make their own countries less hostile. By reducing the problems of those countries, by fairer trade and farming initiatives perhaps fewer people will want to come? Its abundantly clear to me that people come here as a last resort - the individual and institutional abuse faced by those who try is unbelievable.

I haven't visited anyone yet - the demand for visitors is not consistent. I'm somewhat trepidatious about it - I'm not sure what I've really got to offer them. I'm determined, though, to do it. I want to show them that not every British person wishes them ill.
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