JRS are pleased to have donated dozens of bags to friends being held at Napier barracks in Kent helping them store their belongings, and carry them more easily as they travel to the next stages of their lives. JRS delivered 83 bags in total to men held at Napier, with thanks to Jim Deans of Sussex Homeless Support, Hastings Community of Sanctuary, Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, and Sanctuary on Sea Brighton and Hove who generously donated the bags and suitcases.
JRS UK’s Detention Outreach team offer practical and pastoral support to men housed in Napier barracks weekly, both within the camp itself and through a drop-in working in partnership with a local church.
Naomi Blackwell, Detention Outreach Manager said:
“There were enough to provide bags for everyone left in the camp so the men were delighted. These donations mean no-one will be walking out of Napier with a black bin bag of belongings, and some of their dignity will still be left intact.”
As well as donations of practical, sturdy bags, we regularly provide traditional food from cultures where many men are from – such as Ethiopia, Eritrea and Syria – mobile phones and chargers, as well as bibles in Amharic/Tigrinya, prayer beads, books, shoes and trainers.
For the men held at the dilapidated former military barracks site at Napier, the uncertainty of day to day life is frightening and undignified. JRS UK has found that victims of torture and trafficking are routinely transferred to Napier, where the conditions have repeatedly been condemned as unsafe and unsuitable to house people seeking asylum. People in Napier tend to suffer rapid and serious deterioration in mental health. The site continues not to be COVID-19 secure and we are deeply concerned about recent reports of a COVID outbreak.
One gentleman supported by the JRS team described Napier as, ‘like being in a hospital or prison, there are people rapidly becoming more and more mentally unwell around you, one has just tried to kill himself, another is in pain, another is very stressed and cannot cope…. I did not feel like a person when I was there. I felt I had lost who I was. The way we were treated, it denied us all freedom.’
The men have often experienced long and treacherous journeys where they’ve left everything behind to seek sanctuary in the UK. They have few possessions, but the gift of a bag they can call their own allows them to regain some agency over their situations, and remember that there are others who are concerned for their wellbeing.
We will continue to need bags, so we would be grateful for more donations, preferably which can be dropped off in Kent or Sussex. To find out more please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The JRS team are accompanying the men held at Napier Barracks, and offering practical and emotional support in-person and remotely.
Can you help us continue this essential work?