I was just so happy to be back in the UK closer to the memories of my Parents

“I was born in Clapton, London, in 1984. My Mother, Father and I lived in the UK together in a house and my Aunt regularly visited – my Aunt was residing in the UK at the time and has continued to reside in the UK until today. She is a British National.

My parents took me to Ghana at the age of five in 1989 for a holiday with the intention to return to the UK. Unfortunately for me they died not long after we arrived in Ghana in a car accident. I was not with them in the car but I was told by my Uncle about what had happened. I do not remember much as I was very young. The only relative I had in Ghana was a long-distance family friend who was not blood related but I called him my ‘Uncle’. He looked after me in Ghana after the passing of my parents. My Aunt and Uncle from the UK sent money regularly to him to look after me.

Travel to UK at the Age of 17/18

My ‘Uncle’ in Ghana who took care of me, arranged for me to return back to the UK when I was 17/18 years old because I had immediate family living there who were very willing to take care of me; my Aunt and Uncle in the UK also realised I was always sad and felt disconnected to Ghana because I kept on saying to them since I was little I wanted to go back home to the UK as that is what I always have considered my home. My ‘Uncle’ in Ghana gave me a Ghanaian passport to use for travel to the UK. As far as I was concerned there was no issues with this passport.

When leaving Ghana to travel to the UK, my ‘Uncle’ told me to hand the passport he gave me to a man in London as soon as I got to England, so it would be returned back to him as he said I was a British Citizen and did not need a Ghanaian passport. I did not know any better and did not know the system and thought this was normal. My ‘Uncle’ also gave me my birth Certificate showing that I was born in the UK.

I arrived in the UK in October 2002 at Heathrow Airport and soon after handed the passport to this man in London. That’s the last time I saw that passport.

Life in UK Once Arriving from GHANA

I continued my life in the UK and lived with my Aunt and she supported me and helped me get into college. I felt like I was once again close to my own family and the memories I had of my parents. It was like I returned home after all these years.

My British Birth Certificate enabled me to get a driver’s license and other identity documents including my national insurance number. I believed I was a British citizen and was entitled to all this by virtue of being born in the UK.

I went to College at Conel College of North East London in 2002, studied Construction but did not finish. I dropped out in 2004, moved out of my Aunt’s apartment because I wanted to be independent and started working part time at a retail supermarket in Enfield.

In 2006 I also worked in Marble Arch as a shop floor assistant and a stockroom assistant.

Shortly after been made redundant because the company was cutting down on staff, in 2008 I got a job at a shop in Chingford as a cashier. Later on in 2011 I was given a 1 bedroom flat in Enfield on housing benefit because I couldn’t support myself without a job for about a year until my personal case worker at the job centre helped me find a temporary job at a supermarket warehouse in Waltham Cross as Packer.

I voted and literally did everything a British citizen would be able to do. The only thing I did not think of claiming was my British passport, because I was young, naïve and never had any plans to travel at that time. I was glad to be back in the UK where I had fond childhood memories of my loving parents (which were my last memories of them). All my memories of them are based in the UK and coming back here felt as if I was closer to them.

EMPLOYMENT WITH NHS

Eventually, hard work in my studies and employment provided me with a great opportunity with the NHS (National Health Service) as a Social Therapist in 2014, at a medium security hospital for mental patients. I finally felt like my life was grounded and going somewhere as I had secured a career job and felt my parents of late would have been proud of me. However, little did I know that this would prove to be a massive nightmare the effects of which I am still facing today.

As a Social Therapist my role was to interact with patients with mental illness socially or on a 1 on 1 basis to help them recover and help change their way of life for the better. On one of the night shifts there was an incident on another ward at the centre and I was radioed and told to report to the ward to help de-escalate the situation. Unfortunately, things went out of proportion and there was a riot on the ward and I got assaulted and injured badly. This has affected my teeth and caused injury to my neck.

The NHS refused to compensate me when my injury lawyers approached them. And I was not even given any counselling.

I was told by my manager that they would refer me to a dentist to help fix my teeth back to how it was before and I would get physiotherapy for my neck pain. However, this never happened.

ISSUES WITH HOME OFFICE

I was sent a letter by the Home Office whom had classed me as an immigrant which got me so confused and shocked, because I was born in England and before you even work for the NHS you have to be screened by the Home Office and police.


I sought advice from the Home Office on the phone on what to do to resolve my issue. I was told to naturalize since I was born in the UK and also since I was not able to provide one of my parent’s passports.

I went ahead to pay and completed The Life in The UK test, passed and put my application in with my British Birth Certificate and paid £1,080 for the application fee.

But the application was refused on the basis that I was not entitled to work, which is not true because I have a national insurance number and have worked for many years and paid taxes. I became very frustrated, depressed and confused.


I asked for advice from an immigration
solicitor, who requested for my Home Office immigration history which stated on the first paragraph that I was born in the United Kingdom but also had history of me coming into the country in 2002 with a Ghanaian passport and also, they claim I acquired a student visa from Ghana in 2007. This is impossible because I have not left the UK since I returned in 2002. I told my solicitor about how my ‘Uncle’ helped me return to England in 2002 and that I didn’t know much about the passport but I was told to give it to a man when I arrived and that was the last time I saw that passport.

The solicitors advised me that I should leave the matter with them to resolve it because it looked like the Home Office had two identifications with the same name and date of birth but two different places of birth and it looked like they were confused giving the decision for my naturalisation. The solicitor believed that the Home Office had made a mistake.

In the meantime, I was requested by the Home Office to be reporting and signing on at their main office at London Bridge once every month, I signed on every month and never missed a date.

My solicitor made an application and added additional grounds for consideration for the Home Office. I did not agree with this because my solicitor should have concentrated on the naturalisation rather than making an application for additional grounds. The reasons for refusal of my naturalisation was wrong and incorrect and my solicitor should have addressed this. However, she said that the Home Office asked her to make an additional grounds application. I do not have this application.

DEPORTATION

On one of my signings at the Home Office, I was called into an interview room and was told I will be detained until further notice. I had no notice and this happened all so fast. I spent three weeks in a detention centre in Oxford and was granted bail by a Judge. My Aunt and Uncle had to travel from London to Wales to represent me as surety’s and they put a £1,500 bond for my release. I was given the condition of staying at my Aunt’s address and I was still required to report for signing at the Home Office in London Eaton House until my issue was resolved.

A few weeks later I went to the Home Office to sign on as I was told to but they went ahead and detained me again without any notice.


I immediately contacted my
solicitor but she said she couldn’t help me and also she was on holidays. So, I had no option but to raise up money again and look for another solicitor.

This time I was taken to Harmondsworth Detention Centre. I was there for a few weeks because trying to apply for bail there was like a myth. I had difficulties in trying to acquire a solicitor but eventually I applied for bail on my own and had a court hearing date. I even remember reading the news and finding out that “DEPORT FIRST AND APPEAL LATER “was ruled unlawful”.

On the night before my bail court hearing day, in the middle of the night I was forced out of my cell by 4 officers onto a military plane at an unknown military base and was told I was being deported to Ghana. It all happened too fast and I kept on asking how come I was not notified about this and I had not been shown any travelling documents. I also told the officer I was not well and I had been accessed by the doctor and been prescribed anti-depressants which was meant to be administered to me that same week but they ignored me. I kept telling them that my bail hearing was in the morning but they ignored me. I kept on asking the officers before they took me out the detention centre why my name was at the bottom of the list and only my name was written in pen and the other detainees which were on the list had their names printed and all those detainees were also notified and showed travelling documents before that date but I wasn’t? All of that was very suspicious to me and I did not know what was happening. This was unfair as I was not shown travelling documents and I had a bail hearing in the morning. No one listened to me.

On the plane I urged the escorts to help me, they listened and realised something was very wrong and that there must be a mistake because I had a copy of my birth certificate on me and also, I told them I even voted on the 8th of June the same day I was detained, they checked my birth certificate and saw it was genuine. They asked the Home Office personnel on the plane why and he said the reason is because I was born in England, 1984, and the Margaret Thatcher law affected me. The escorts found it absurd and said to the Home Office personnel if I haven’t committed a crime I should rather be helped in getting my British passport instead of being deported.

The Escorts said the only way they could help me was if the Ghanaian immigration on the ground refused me entry because I was not born in Ghana. But unfortunately the Ghanaian immigration did not want to help me at all because they had been given by the Home Office a travelling certificate with a copy of the Ghanaian passport with place of birth as Accra. This was false information and the Home Office knew this but intentionally used it to their advantage in getting rid of me because they know my place of birth is London not Accra. This is proven by my genuine birth certificate. Had they shown this to the Ghanaian authorities, they would have refused me entry. The Home Office seemed to be aware of this and relied on a passport that they knew had incorrect information. And because the physical passport was no where to be found they made a travelling certificate with the incorrect information they had.

LIFE IN GHANA

My life has been turned upside down and I am in misery. I do not know where the ‘Uncle’ that helped me years ago is, I don’t know if he’s alive or not because we lost contact 15 years ago. Even my Aunt does not know his whereabouts.

Sir/Madam I am pleading with you to help me, I don’t know anyone in Ghana, I have been squatting at a friend’s and I am finding it very difficult to live out here. I have been sleeping on the couch, it’s a small house with many people living here and its damaging my health. My immune system is not used to the poor conditions in Ghana. I fell very ill when I got here because I wasn’t given any malaria tablets.

I have been robbed at knife point and had my phone taken. I sometimes don’t have food to eat. I sometimes have to fetch water to have a bath or drink because there’s no constant running water. I am being taken advantage of because I speak in a British accent. I am always overpriced when trying to buy something. The people here see me as a foreigner.

I am very depressed, anxious, suicidal and have tried to kill myself before in the UK because of what’s been going on in my life. I miss my friends, family and loved ones who are all in the UK. I was once a happy, working, tax paying, sound individual with hopes and dreams, now I have nothing left, only with injuries and bad memories.

I hardly sleep at night, I feel so vulnerable and have been taken advantage of. I feel I am in a bad dream, a nightmare hoping and praying to wake up out of it. Also, this has put me in a position of not having a fair fight against the Home Office because of the difficulties in contacting my Solicitor. It costs a lot here to be on the phone and to use the internet. I feel my human rights have been breached. I feel like a badly treated alien in this country.

At all times I was endeavouring to live a legitimate life in the UK and build a lifelong career believing that I am a British Citizen and I had to just apply for my passport which I did not do as I was just so happy to be back in the UK closer to the memories of my parents.

Please Sir/Madam have mercy and help me please. Thank you and God bless you.”

Advertisements

Anything you apply for, however, is always “no, no, no” and “rejected, rejected, rejected”.

The worst thing is the indefinite detention, which Home Office lies about. People are in here for 8-9 months. I have been here for almost 6 months. This is my third time in detention. Even prisoners know when they will be released. Here, if you don’t do anything, that’s a problem. If you do something, that becomes a problem as well. Time is taken away from our lives. I want to study and want to do my nursing. But I can’t do that. Months are taken away from us, we can’t get that back. It’s not fair.

We want to know, and we are going on the hunger strike. Something needs to be done about the detention system. I am paying a lot of money, just to be refused again and again. It is mentally draining. It needs to take shorter time to make decisions. [My] future is in their hands. I am trying to stay strong. I don’t want to end up on detention medicines. They affect you mentally as well.

Another problem is [how we need to] continue to find some help from outside. Home Office keeps lying, and they [detention centres] are sneaky. The main office will call us to come for something else, like healthcare. Next, the person is locked up for removal without their phone. Some people, when they are locked, don’t even know that the detention centre has your flight ticket. That is why we need to have each other’s numbers, and numbers of each other’s solicitors. We have to rely on other people’s help to communicate to the outside something is being done in here.

I want them to provide us a way to stay in the country. I came here when [I was] 18 years old. I learned how to be independent here. No more friends in —–. If I go back to —–, there is nobody there. If I have people there, I would be okay with going back. I would go back. But right now, I have my partner here. Friends here. Money here. Most people contributed to the country, and people are not on benefits. People worked and contributed. I don’t want the government money in any shape or form.

But applications are being refused by the case workers. What does a person have to do for her case to be considered? I want Home Office to reduce the requirement for the amount of time spent in the country. It’s like… they are not giving the opportunity. We should be given a chance to stay. In [my] situation, you need to do something to solve this problem. Look at the Windrush. What about the Commonwealth countries, then? People who spent 12-13 years in the UK, but do not ‘qualify’ to be the Windrush generation.

It’s like, I do understand that this happened many years ago. I do not want to have British citizenship, but a legal status to work. An option to regularise afterwards. Anything you apply for, however, is always “no, no, no” and “rejected, rejected, rejected”.

What about us? Everything is about the Windrush, and I understand that. But what about the detention system in general? We need to be focused on that as well. There are many people in the detention centres who need to regularise their status, who has been waiting for many years.

It really needs to be considered, because once we are released, it’s just a matter of time when we back here again. It is like a cycle. They take away our futures and lives and waste the tax payer’s money on this detention centres. We have loved ones to go back to. We don’t need to be locked up like criminals—even they know when they are being released. This place is mentally draining me. It is only a matter of time before I end up on depression medication. But I am trying to be strong.

We in Yarl’s Wood would like to invite the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid to visit the centre

We in Yarl’s Wood would like to invite the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid to visit the centre and meet the ladies here to get an accurate view of our indefinite detention in the hope that we can have a positive effect on any future policy and indeed the much needed revision of current policy and how it is implemented.

We believe the Windrush scandal has vindicated our decision to hunger strike in February and March this year as among other things we were protesting against.

  • The unfair process being detained by office workers who’s vocational success is based on how many people they remove, with no time limit on detention.
  • The Home Office’s blatant disregard for Articles 8, 5 and 3
  • The deportation of people with ongoing cases and appeals
  • The detention of vulnerable people

We are sad to announce that some ladies in Yarl’s Wood Detention centre are again taking part in a hunger strike beginning today, 2nd of May 2018, as we are truly angered by the entire scandal, and we feel very strongly that many people who have resided in the UK since childhood but never had their stay regularised, and are in exactly the same situation but not granted the same amnesty because they are not part of the Windrush generation.

A child cannot break immigration laws, or choose where to grow up and establish a private life, so why should they be labelled as over stayers and “illegal” once they are adults?

This highlights the unjust process in place currently at the home office for all who have genuine reasons to remain, including those seeking sanctuary, seeking to be reunited or to remain with family and those fleeing torture and gender based violence.

Our demands are still the same, as we are still ignored and remain in a desperate situation with no other outlet to vent our frustration at this continued cruelty by the state.

We would greatly appreciate venting our concerns and grievances to the Home Secretary should we be granted the opportunity.

 

Yarl’s Wood Detainees and Hunger for Freedom strikers

All my friends in here have gone

All my friends in here have gone, I’m into my sixth month in here and it’s getting so difficult for me, I don’t see people’s faces just shadows, I don’t want to get to know anyone else, it’s very difficult to care for people who are in such difficult circumstances, the same circumstances I am in myself, I get close to them and then they are either released or deported, I can’t do that anymore.

I can’t talk to anyone anymore, prisoners or officers, after what they did to my friend, I feel betrayed, it’s weird but I do.

Not only that, but the events of Wednesday evening are repeatedly playing on my mind, on top of everything else. I’m not sleeping very well at all, I’m actually having nightmares about the whole thing, I spent all night reading last night.

I’m glad that at least I can write as I think it helps me now more than ever.

I don’t know what I would be like without detained voices.

I can honestly say I have never felt so alone and hopeless in my life, but I have never felt such anger either.

We are still traumatised due to yesterday’s events, I can’t tell you how unsettling this is, I haven’t spoken to a single officer today and I don’t see how I can, I can’t even look them in the eyes, I just keep thinking “I wonder which one of you is going to put their hands on me” after what I saw last night I keep having flashbacks, I feel guilty like I should have done something more, it was very tense and I thought it was going to kick off at one point, we were crying shouting at the officers to let her go, and they were shouting in our faces and threatening us. I can’t get that image of her strapped like a Guantanamo inmate out of my mind.

I have never felt so vulnerable in my life and I have been in some shitty situations, I’m so anxious I can’t relax, it’s like I’m in the wolf’s den and I will get eaten eventually, I don’t know what is worse, the anticipation of the event or the event itself.

I can honestly say I have never felt so alone and hopeless in my life, but I have never felt such anger either.

I hope we can all stick together and stop this happening again, all detainees should stop being afraid, or use that fear to fight for their own and each other’s survival.

We have to make a stand for not just our rights but for what is right.

Unity and Solidarity is what will make the difference.

We have a new chant for our protest and it goes “I’M NOT GOING OUT LIKE THAT”

What I have just witnessed has shocked and angered me so deeply I don’t know where to begin.

After doing a peaceful sit in against the continued detention of torture, rape, gender violence trafficking and modern day slavery victims, we had to witness a brutal removal of an African lady. Her hands were not even cuffed but rather some sort of tape or zip tie was used to tie her hands behind her back.

I and many fellow detainees were shocked and outraged by this and indeed we began to fall into descent before finally composing ourselves as we do not wish to behave like the animals that are detaining us and removing us.

I heard Rupert Soames testify to the Home Affairs Committee that Serco are only concerned with our welfare in detention and try to remove Serco from the reality of removing a person, (LIES, LIES, LIES) well I can tell you those were all Serco Officers brutally removing the lady not Tascor, and a Serco officer just confirmed to me as I am writing this, “it’s part of the job”.

Who’s job is it to uphold decency, human rights and civil liberty.

We have a new chant for our protest and it goes “I’M NOT GOING OUT LIKE THAT”

They have taken everyone they wanted to take

They have taken everyone they want to take. They are in segregation. I can only give you a picture of what has happened to our friend.

There were loads of officers, I couldn’t count how many. Male officers too. And she was naked. She had a pink nighty, very short short short, up over her. And they handcuffed her hands behind her back and pulled them up to her neck. They were punching her on her side. She was crying and we were screaming, “This is how you treat people?!”

The centre manager Jacki, she said she doesn’t care if they want to take her back to Nigeria. When they wanted to manhandle my friend they tell me to leave. Jacki, she told me to leave the room, she said “this is my centre” and I said “I am a visitor in this room and I am not going anywhere”.

Another officer was bullying her and shouting at our friend when they were trying to remove her. They were trying to shut me up too.

She has a JR in.

The flight is tonight at 23:30, from an army base. That is what they do, it isn’t in the proper airport it is at the cargo bit of the airport or at an army base.

I’m tired of this trauma. I’ve been through too much trauma. I’m tired. I’m here and they won’t be able to get the travel documents to move me. They won’t be able to get it.

Nothing can help you in this place. It is too much. Trauma upon trauma upon trauma.