I’ve lived here for 13 years, since i was 15. I’ve been to school here, been to university. I’m married to a man who has British citizenship. He has British children, I have have British step-children who we have 50:50 parentage for.
They have been refusing my application for very silly reason. Saying I can go back to my country of origin and continue my relationship with my husband with Skype and whatapp, that modern technology allows us to do that. They told me I should sign on while my application was being processed, which i did. All the dates they asked me to go I was there. The last time I was there they said, ‘You have an interview today’. They took me to a room and asked me about my husband and step-children. They were asking about dates and stuff which I answered all correctly. That man then left, saying he was going to speak to someone and get back to me. Another officer came in and tried to contradict me. We see our step-children all the time, we have a good relationship with them and i pick them up from school but the officer came in and was trying to contradict my story. I rebuked him and told him no, and re-told my story. He left then after about an hour he said, ‘We are going to detain you today’. Usually they detain you if you have absconded or have a criminal record. But I have never absconded, I don’t have a criminal record, I have kept in contact with the home office for the last 13 years.
They took me Colnbrook. When I got there they did the protocol and everything then put me in room with three beds with air-conditioning on in October. We asked them to turn it off but they said it was centralised so they couldn’t. I got really sick, to my bones, and asked to see a doctor. They didn’t let me see a nurse until three days later when they sent me to YW. The three days I was there they gave me clothes, they were supposed to be new clothes but they were so dirty. They had all been used. Even the towels and stuff. I know its not a hotel but they don’t wash them properly.
Yarl’s Wood is just crazy. Even though it is mainly women there are a lot of male staff. It is very demeaning for me to ask a male officer for sanitary products. They are in a pot but if they aren’t there you have to ask the officers and a lot of them are men.
The water is so bad. The food is so bad, it doesn’t taste of anything so you have to put loads of salt in the food which is bad for your health. I have stopped eating there and I’m eating biscuits and noodles from the shop. I don’t want to eat so much salt and damage my health before I leave here.
Theres older people here, like 65 and 70. Theres a lot of pregnant women here too. Under the circumstances everyone is doing the best they can. There was a lady here who was 8 weeks pregnant, and she just found out. She was crying all the time. her pregnancy was delicate and she was worried for her life and her baby’s life. When she had pain they gave her paracetamol, they didn’t examine her. When she asked to be examined they said you have a stomach ache – so you get paracetamol for that. They seem to be giving everyone paracetamol for everything here.
The beds are very uncomfortable, just rubber mattresses, and they are dirty from how many people have slept there. They only clean the room if two people have left, but not if one person leaves, even if they have been there for months. It is not healthy.
Women have come from all over the country, from Scotland and Newcastle. I feel bad for the women here because their families can’t come and visit them. People’s families have to work extra hours to pay for the solicitors.
Some of the officers are nice but you forget about them when the others look at you like you are nothing.
People try to kill themselves here. It is such a depressing atmosphere. People take the bit out the wardrobe that you hang the clothes on and harm themselves with it.
Also there is a lady here who has clearly lost her mind. I say that respectfully. I am told she has been here for 8 months. She shouts at people and tells them not to look at here or she will get them. She goes to the gym and sits outside where people leave their shoes and she rubs her armpits with the shoes. I am scared for my own safety but for her – for her too. The officers say there is nothing wrong with her but it is clear there is. She need to be in a place where she can be cared for properly.
Before we would know for about a week before your deportation tickets. Now they just take you unaware. They call you into legal and tell you your flight is in the morning so you don’t have time to speak to your lawyer. Also people have been called to legal and leave the same day. We knew who had a ticket before. At this point it will only take a miracle of god to cancel a ticket like that.
When people who are unwell and are taken outside to a hospital or specialist appointment, they take most of them handcuffed. We are not criminals, they take most of us unaware to bring us here. They handcuff them. They are weak and unwell, they do not resist. The officers do it because they are scared they are going to run away. Everyone looks at you like a criminal, if you are lucky they put a cloth over your hands to hide the handcuffs.
People are not criminals here. Most of us have been here for years, and contributed. I have obeyed everything they have said and not worked because I wasn’t allowed. But I have done charity work and showed them records to say I am a good citizen and trying to contribute to this society. But they don’t care.
The worst thing for me is you don’t know how long you are here for. If you are a criminal you know you are in prison for a year. But you go to legal to ask them something and they say they don’t have that information. People have been here for 2 months, 6 months, 8 months. You don’t know how long for. Thats the worst thing for me.