There’s not even candlelight here

This statement was given at 16:45 on 04/11/2022 by a person held in Harmondsworth IRC. At the time the centre had been without running water or electricity since midnight.

At exactly midnight the lights went off, everything went off, and the emergency bells went off. It’s coming up 17 hours now.

We are still waiting. We’re afraid to go behind doors [return to cells at 9pm], because the [emergency] buzzer’s not working, the electricity’s not working, it’s pitch dark. There’s not even candlelight here. The only light we get is through the window, but the windows are all black because it’s Heathrow. And you can’t open the windows, they’re all triple glazed and there’s no air.

It’s cold, and when we go out now it’s dark. A lot of people are struggling. They didn’t have breakfast or lunch – there’s a lot of vegetarians and vegans here and they keep saying the vegetarian food is coming, coming, coming, but it didn’t come all day.

We’ve been given two bottles of water to wash your face and have a drink, but there’s no running water, nothing.

We still haven’t got a place to go and use the toilet. People are struggling now. There are two people to a cell. It’s unbearable – someone wanted to go to the toilet for 2 or 3 hours and the manager told them to use a bag. Shit in a bag. That’s horrendous – how can you say that? This is the United Kingdom, the world looks up to us.

As I’m talking I’m sweating, my hair is standing up, I’ve got goose bumps.

It’s coming up 5 and I’ve got 4 people sitting around me listening to me what I tell you.

I’m afraid to go behind the door at 9. If the buzzer’s not working they shouldn’t be keeping people in their rooms for 12 hours. There’s no water, nobody can go to the toilet – people are basically going to the toilet in the bin.

In another wing there’s a gentlemen that’s had 3 strokes, he’s in his 60s and he’s been here for the last 25 months. He phoned me last night because he was in a bad way. I had to call an officer and ask them to help him because the emergency buzzer wasn’t working.

Normally [cell] opening time is 8am but they didn’t open until 10:30 today. Before that no officers came to check on people. The buzzer wasn’t working – god forbid something happened to someone. There should have been people coming round to check everyone’s alright.

I got my medication at 1 o clock, I’m supposed to take it at 8 o clock. I’ve got [chronic, painful medical condition]. I had to argue for it. It’s pitch dark – when they gave it to me they had to record it on a laptop because no computers are working.

People came for a visit and they had to turn them away, they said there was no power.

16 hours it’s been. I’m dying for a tea or a coffee, my head’s hurting, I’m really stressed out. Most people’s phones are dead because they didn’t know the electric was going to go out. We don’t know what’s going to happen at 9.


One thought on “There’s not even candlelight here

  1. My husband is in harmondsworth it’s an absolutely diabolical scary situation they are freezing cold hungry I am worried regarding the mental health state of my husband. I will not be able to contact him soon his phone battery is almost dead, No hot meal,no breakfast, no water,no hot drink, shower, toilet use, cannot ask for help no buzzers working. They are being left and not told anything


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