YW Drop-In Sessions update

What a difference a week makes – from apprehension to having fun!:

Drop-In Session 1 – 30/03/17

We (Caroline & Jess) were both feeling a little apprehensive as we arrived at Yarl’s Wood as we really didn’t know what to expect from the first drop-in session.
The aim of the session was to find out what the detainees would like to get from the morning, and to meet new people who would like a befriender. We also hoped that we would meet those ‘harder to reach’ detainees – which we did!
Of the 36 women that YWB currently visit, 14 attended the session, 13 new people came and spent some time with us and 7 initial visit forms were filled out. We met lots of young women from Iraq and Iran, and two young Eritrean girls.
As part of our monitoring and evaluation work, we managed to get 6 people to fill out a quick survey about the session, and all of them said that it made them feel happier; they felt supported; less stressed; it was a safe space to talk and would recommend another resident to visit us at future sessions.

Drop-In Session 2 – 06/04/17

What fun we (Caroline & Jess) had at the (second) drop-in session! We had been given permission from Serco Management to take in some games for the sessions, and so we played Uno, coloured in postcards, and borrowed a music CD from the library. The feedback we received once again was extremely positive, and it had a very relaxed atmosphere.
26 people came to say hello and spend some time with us and we completed 6 initial visit forms. There were a few people that came along who feel that the drop in service will be enough for them for the moment, and therefore are not in need of a weekly visit from a befriender.

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Marie-France’s Interview

DSC_0255_MarieFranceMarie-France, one of our Befrienders, was recently interviewed during a service at St. Mary the Virgin, Welwyn. Hear what she has to say about Yarl’s Wood…

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YW Drop-In Sessions starting

 We are pleased to tell you that from 30th March Caroline and Jess will be hosting a weekly Drop-In Session in YWIRC. These sessions will run every Thursday 10am–12pm in the office opposite Welfare for any female detainee. Tea, coffee & biscuits will be available to help provide a relaxed atmosphere for chat, playing games, general socialising. Over time we expect the sessions to evolve to address the needs and preferences of those who come along.

The aim of these sessions is not only to provide another opportunity to check in with those we support already but also to meet those who may be especially isolated or lonely to see if they are interested in having a Befriender. Please encourage those you visit to come along.

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2017 Annual Meeting – 5th July

We have now finalised details for this year’s Annual Meeting:

Map to The Place Bedford 0047pm, Wednesday, 5th July
The Place Theatre, Bradgate Road, Bedford.   MK40 3DE


The Bundle by Journeymen TheatreThis will be followed immediately (8pm) by a performance of
The Bundle, an asylum seeker’s story by the Journeymen Theatre. It is based on the real life story of a woman who flees the persecution and violence of her society and immediate family to save both herself and her three children. Here in the UK, she continues to negotiate the complex and harsh thickets of bureaucracy in order to attain refugee status.

There will be a cash bar and we will gratefully receive a donation for the performance.

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Asylum Monologues – 15th June

Map to The Quarry 001A date for your diary. The showing will be at The Quarry Theatre at St Luke’s, 26 St Peters St, Bedford. MK40 2NN

Full details to follow.

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The Scar Test – 21st June

During Refugee Week, there will be showing of The Scar Test. A time you will know but a place you cannot. With unique access through the Yarl’s Wood Befrienders, Untold Theatre brings you stories from the inside. The play takes its title from a procedure used to determine whether detainees have undergone torture in their home countries, but not all forms of torture leave scars…

Map to The Place Bedford 004Wednesday, 21st June at
The Place Theatre, Bradgate Road, Bedford.   MK40 3DE

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Gardening Scheme

thyme2growI think you will all agree that it would be fantastic to have a gardening scheme at YW to:

  • Provide a healthy distraction from daily worries
  • Teach new skills and interests
  • Improve the outdoor environment for all to enjoy

You can help get it off the ground by:

  • Supporting the Crowdfunding campaign which goes live on 2nd March 2017 at 6:00pm
  • Attending the Crowdfunding launch event on 3rd March 2017, 6:00–8:00pm at The Chapter House, St Peter’s Church, De Pary’s Avenue, Bedford, MK40 2TX. Jess is going to be singing, Nina (one of our trustees) will be speaking, and there will be a quiz, as well as cake!
  • logo_thyme2growBook free tickets to the event at: https://thyme2growcrowdfundinglaunch.eventbrite.co.uk/
  • Find out more about the Scheme and Crowdfunding campaign at: www.thyme2grow.org.uk

Find us on

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Funding update

We are pleased to announce that we have recently received grants from the AB Charitable Trust and The Wixamtree Trust, plus an unexpected £500 donation from a corporate giving scheme. Thank you very much.

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We need people with language skills

As you can appreciate, the women detained in Yarl’s Wood experience isolation significantly worse when everyone around them is speaking a language they barely, if at all, understand. Therefore, we are trying to recruit more people with language skills. We are particularly looking for people who can speak:

Albanian Amharic Arabic Farsi Hindi Lingala Mandarin Polish Russian Spanish Tigrinya Urdu Vietnamese

We want our 24th June training and selection day to be dedicated to people with language skills.

If you speak any of the languages listed above, or other languages, or you know someone who does, then you can email us on info@ywbefrienders.org or book yourself onto our next information session.

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Meeting the Home Affairs Select Committee

Rob & Valerie , befrienders, with Rt Hon Yvette Cooper

Rob & Valerie , befrienders, with Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP


A meeting took place at the Corn Exchange in Bedford on the evening of 2nd February to canvass views from a mixed selection of the local population on the current immigration situation. It was led by Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP and included several members of the Select Committee.
In attendance, there were about 70 people including a good number of YWBefrienders and members of BRASS.
The round table discussions focused on how Bedford has successfully managed community cohesion, as well as discussions on the asylum process. Yarl’s Wood Befrienders were vocal in their condemnation of the immigration process at the present time.

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