Beyond Detention logo

Get Involved

Volunteers are the backbone of our organisation. We welcome new volunteers, particularly those with personal experience of detention and migration and those who speak other languages.

How can you help?

There are many ways to support us. Would you like to volunteer? Become a trustee? Join us in raising awareness of the impact of detention? Help us financially?

As a small charity, we appreciate all the help we receive. Contact the team on
Oragami swam

Volunteer with us

We have 5 different volunteering roles:
In-detention befriender
Post-detention befriender
Casework volunteer
Office volunteer
Fundraising and awareness-raising volunteer

In-detention befriender

You will be paired with a woman or man detained in Yarl’s Wood IRC and visit them weekly.
Visits can be a lifeline for people in detention. Visiting is rewarding, but it can also be challenging, as being detained indefinitely has a detrimental effect on mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. We therefore need people who are non-judgmental and empathic, with good listening skills, clear boundaries and a good understanding of their own, and the role’s, limitations.

We ask our visitors to commit to visiting someone in Yarl’s Wood IRC weekly for a minimum of six months.
A heart-shaped necklace dangling

Post-detention befriender

If you don’t live in or near Bedford, it is possible to become a post-detention befriender. This is a role which you can do from anywhere in the UK, to support someone for 3 months (extendable according to need), by phone or online, after release. This can be a difficult period as people move to another part of the country or have to deal with destitution or homelessness. Helping them through it is a challenging role. As well as emotional support, you will provide information and make referrals to enable people to access the practical support they need, with housing, food banks, legal advice and education, for instance. You are not expected to provide advice in any of these areas yourself, but to offer a supported referral to the relevant agencies wherever the person is located. At the end of the befriending process, we encourage people to move into the online Friendship Group for ongoing support.

Befriender Training

Information sessions

We hold regular sessions when you can meet us and find out more about becoming a befriender. Please contact us if you would like to attend our next session.


We will ask you to fill in an application form and we will arrange an interview with you. We will also ask for two character references and a Disclosure and Barring check.


Before you can visit you will need to attend our bespoke training session, which covers why people are detained, the impact of being detained, cultural awareness, listening skills, boundaries and phone support. You will also be assigned a mentor. We offer further training to our volunteers throughout the year. Topics may include trauma-informed approaches, the new immigration policy and self-care and volunteer mental health.

First visit

You will be accompanied by a member of staff or an experienced volunteer on your first visit.

Ongoing support

In addition to further training and a mentor, we provide monthly Toolkit Sessions, where you can meet up with staff and other befrienders, talk through any issues you are facing and take part in skills development. Staff are always on hand to offer support as needed.

To let us know how you can help, please get in touch.
Yarl's Wood group team photo

Casework volunteer

As people face an ever more hostile environment in the immigration system, good legal advice is vital. We are therefore offering OISC training to a small number of volunteers who can commit to a minimum of one year after training to equip them to provide immigration advice, through our befrienders, to people detained in removal centres and after release.
Two ladies sharing a hug.

Office volunteer

We can always use an extra hand in the office to help sort donations, go shopping, gather feedback from those we work with and our volunteers, and to input data.

Fundraising and awareness-raising volunteer

Volunteers can provide a vital point of connection with different communities to raise awareness of the impact of detention, to collect practical donations such as clothing and digital devices, and to help with fundraising.
“I became a Yarl’s Wood befriender for two reasons: I wanted to make a difference in my community and I wanted to show people who come to the UK to seek a better life that there are many of us who welcome and support them. I’ve been a befriender for three years, visiting people in Yarl’s Wood before the pandemic and befriending over the phone when the centre was closed to visitors. I’ve visited and spoken to lots of different people and it’s always interesting to hear their stories. Some people have made difficult trips to get to the UK while some have lived here for many years.
It is sometimes hard being a befriender but always rewarding. People in detention often have no family in the UK and can feel isolated, scared and overwhelmed. The people I visit often tell me how grateful they are to have someone to talk to or how much better they feel after spending time with someone who really listens to them. It feels good to know that the small amount of time I contribute makes such a big difference.”
Frank, befriender
A collection of stones, One with the word love written on it.

Come work with us


Find out more
Orange origami bird logo.
Beyond Detention is totally independent of the UK government, the Home Office and the management of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre (YWIRC).