Being held in detention is an extremely isolating experience – people find themselves separated from their family and friends, with no idea when they will be reunited. The days, months and seasons all blend together, time itself becomes a blur, no longer necessary except for the count. Everyone in detention is keeping count – and the count is always upwards. The absence of a time limit on immigration detention in the UK means that no one knows how long they will remain there, which will be the winning number, the one that will mark their release.
The people we serve in detention often tell us that the not knowing is the worst part: not knowing how long they will be detained; not knowing whether they will be allowed to go back to their lives or be removed from the country; not knowing whether they will get to say any goodbyes. Every day is a new opportunity to win their legal case, to find a lawyer or an advocate to help them fight, to be free again. Every night is a reminder that they haven’t made it yet, that the count will go up by one more, until it becomes almost too high to bear.
“Our prayers can bring a sense of comfort and peace of mind, reducing the loneliness of detention.”
Many of the people we meet in detention, regardless of their individual faith or lack thereof, ask us to remember them in our prayers. This is a very simple gesture in itself, but holds an incredible power: to remember someone by name in our prayers means to recognise them as individual beings and to acknowledge their plight. Our prayers can bring a sense of comfort and peace of mind, reducing the loneliness of detention and offering a connection to the outside world.
Each month JRS produces a “Praying with Detainees” e-mail resource, inviting you to accompany those we serve in detention by holding them in your prayers. We remember the names of the men we visit, ensuring that even though they have been removed from society they know they have not been forgotten. Through prayer we join our voices with theirs, asking God that they may find peace and their detention comes to an end.
GET INVOLVED: Sign up to receive these monthly prayer emails