Yarl’s Wood: Independent Monitoring Board seeks volunteers

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Could you give up your time to volunteer as a member of  the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), providing independent scrutiny of Yarl’s Wood?

Yarl’s Wood IRC is an Immigration Removal Centre situated in Clapham that is used to detain females and families (over the age of 18) prior to them being removed from the country. The detainees (predominantly ladies) come from all over the world with quite different cultural and religious backgrounds and needs. Whilst they are detained, there is a presumption that they should be treated fairly and with humanity. To ensure that this happens, there are a group of unpaid volunteers who visit the Centre as members of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB).

The IMB provides independent scrutiny of Prisons and the immigration Estate, on behalf of Ministers and the public. They have unfettered access to the centre and the ability to speak in confidence with the detainees allowing them to challenge and question anything that falls short of the fair and humane treatment of the detainees. The members are appointed by the immigration Minister but are independent of the Home Office and the Centre operators. Each year they are required to submit a report to the Minister on their finding s and recommendations which is made public.

The Board is currently made up of nine residents who visit Yarl’s Wood two to three times a week on a rota basis. The detainees may approach a member to discuss any matter with which they need assistance. or they may leave a confidential note with their concerns in any of the IMB post boxes around the Centre. These can vary from information about their immigration case, issues with accommodation, health services, food and any other issue that is affecting them. The Board member’s job is to listen to these concerns and either signpost them to the relevant person/organisation or take the matter to the Centre management team, Healthcare provider or the onsite Home Office team.

The IMB are currently looking to recruit three new board members for this important work. Bali Chand, who has been a member for nine years and is the current Chair of the IMB. Describing the role, he said: “To be an IMB volunteer, you do not need any specific qualifications or experience. We are looking for anyone over the age of 18 who lives within a 20 mile radius of Yarl’s Wood from any profession or background. The ability to listen, empathise, be approachable and effectively communicate the detainees concerns to the relevant people is important.’

For further details and application form please visit www.imb.org.uk help make a difference. Deadline 3/3/2019