Ice & Fire in association with Yarl’s Wood Befrienders & Bedford School Arts Festival presents

THE ASYLUM MONOLOGUES

Thursday 15th June, 7.30pm

‘This waiting for the Home Office to decide … it is a diplomatic form of torture.’

ice&fire theatre explores human rights stories through performance. Through active engagement with human rights themes they create high-quality work which responds to defining issues affecting our society and the world beyond. Since 2006, their Actors for Human Rights project has been collecting and disseminating first-hand accounts of asylum seekers and refugees living in the UK, working with more than 700 volunteer actors around the country to present verbatim testimonies from people who have experienced human rights abuses. They perform to thousands of people every year across the UK, telling stories from refugees and asylum seekers, people in poverty, undocumented migrants, women in Afghanistan and more.

Donations to Yarl’s Wood Befrienders welcome on the evening of the performance.

Yarl’s Wood Befrienders offers 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.

Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre is the only detention centre in the UK specifically for women. As a result, people are often a long way from their friends, families and communities, and unlike all other European countries, the UK does not have a time limit on detention, so they could be there for weeks, months, or even years.

The people we support often have traumatic and chaotic histories. We meet victims of torture, trafficking, female genital mutilation, and domestic violence, and women who have been separated from their children, are ex-offenders or recovering drug addicts.

Our three staff members and around 50 trained Befrienders provide emotional and practical support for the women and families held in Yarl’s Wood with the aim of reducing their feelings of isolation and improving their emotional well-being.

Befrienders commit to visiting the person they are allocated on a weekly basis for as long as they are detained.

“She listens to me and I find that so amazing. I can speak to her about things I wouldn’t say to others. It makes a big difference because my family are so far away, and each week she comes”

“She comes regularly every week and I really appreciate it. I feel free and comfort when she comes. I feel I’m being cared for; I feel I’m being loved. The most important thing is the communication and the weekly visit. I hope to see her”

People in detention often arrive at the centre with almost nothing other than what they are wearing at the time they are detained, and may well have little money. We provide practical items to those detained e.g. clothes; shoes; underwear; mobile phone credit; suitcases; and small grants (if they are removed).

These small gifts and acts of kindness go a long way in supporting those who are isolated and vulnerable and helps reduce the isolation felt by many by allowing detainees to stay in contact with family, friends, solicitors and their support networks.

“Top-up means I can communicate with the family back home. They don’t know I am here so being able to call them and let them know I am safe helps”

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