What we stand for

Human Dignity - we listen with empathy and act with compassion

Acceptance      - we listen without judgement and act with respect

Impartiality       - we listen in confidence and act independently of both centre management and of the UK Home Office

About us

In 2000 work started on Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention Centre, now known as Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre (YWIRC), at a former Ministry of Defence site just north of Bedford. Yarl’s Wood Befrienders was set up by the then Bishop of Bedford, John Richardson, to provide visitors for those people who would be held there.

​The Befrienders started visiting detainees as soon as Yarl’s Wood IDC opened in 2001. Since then, while our organisation has grown and developed substantially, our core purpose remains the same – to be a bridge between the people detained indefinitely in YWIRC and the local community, reassuring them that they are not alone and that there are people nearby who care about them. 

​Now a registered charity, Yarl’s Wood Befrienders has around 60 volunteers who visit and befriend detainees or help out in various roles in the office. As a group, the volunteers are becoming increasingly diverse, enriched by several different language speakers and welcoming members from all faiths and none. This enables us to provide better support to detainees from a wide range of countries and backgrounds.

Our Board

Our board comprises five members, who contribute a wealth of skills and experience. They each have oversight of a particular area of our work and sit on at least one working group; these are Governance, People Management, Quality and Impact, Finance and Fundraising, and Marketing and PR. Find out more about our board members here.

Our staff

Our talented team of six staff come from a variety of backgrounds. Between them, they bring professional experience from corporate, military, legal, charitable, educational, communications, retail, civil service and self-employed backgrounds. You can find out more about the team here.

We offer befriending support to people held in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, aiming to reduce their isolation, reinforce their self-esteem and affirm their human dignity.

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Yarl's Wood Befrienders is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity. Charity Number: 1143160

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