Meandering in detention


Meandering in detention

This Prisons Week, Sr Rose Mary reflects on the parallels of imprisonment and detention.

10 October 2017

Meandering in detention

It is hard for anyone one of us to even comprehend what it might be like to be imprisoned for any length of time. Even more so for detainees, in the nine detention centres up and down the country, where there is never any time stated, making the incarceration harder to understand and to bear.

As a member of JRS UK Outreach to detainees at both Harmondsworth and Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centres at Heathrow for some years I have begun only now to get my head around how these men deal with “lock-down” and being treated often like prisoners, even though they are officially only detained while they seek asylum, or await the verdict of endless hours of deliberations about their fate and future. Many of these men are trying desperately, using any channel of hope, to get themselves leave to remain in the UK. We at JRS do not act as lawyers, but often we need to be well versed in the process of Detention so as to channel conversation and assist these men in understanding what they are going through, when they struggle with frustrations and disappointments on a regular basis. It is easy to forget that many carry deep wounds of memories that cannot eradicated of violence, torture and war. As a team, we know that presence is just as important as “doing”, so we journey with them throughout their meandering, offering support and a listening ear. Often in certain circumstances that is not enough, so JRS works with volunteers to find ways best to help these men who are often trapped in a foreign language: Vietnamese, Chinese and various other languages and dialects.

Accompaniment is their only life line to a sense of freedom, and our spiritual and holistic human services for them are paramount and certainly what JRS means for a world affirming that God is present in human history eliciting hope and vision.


Join us in prayer this prisons week for all those detained. We like this prayerful poem from Traian Dors (please click on the prayer to expand):

If you are interested in volunteering with JRS UK and our volunteer detention outreach team please do get in touch.

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Jesuit Refugee Service UK
The Hurtado Jesuit Centre
2 Chandler Street, London E1W 2QT

020 7488 7310

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