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Our Story

Since 2001, we have been offering hope to people detained in Yarl’s Wood IRC through friendship, practical support and advocating for justice.

The beginning

Our story starts with the struggle of men and women who find themselves caught up in the hostile environment of the UK's immigration system. Yarl’s Wood IRC was originally intended to hold refugees for two weeks until a decision had been taken on their case. But in practice men and women are detained indefinitely for months and even years while our broken, inhumane system decides whether to deport or release them. Between 15,000 and 32,000 people are detained each year in immigration detention across the UK. Over the last 20 years, Beyond Detention has borne witness to the traumatic and degrading impact of indefinite detention.
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The now

Befrienders have been visiting Yarl’s Wood IRC since it opened in 2001. We are now a registered charity with paid staff and 70 volunteers, who between them speak 25 languages. The change in name to Beyond Detention reflects the work we do both inside and outside Yarl’s Wood IRC. On the board of trustees and among staff and volunteers are people with lived experience of detention who inform and shape our way of working.
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Who we work with

We work with a number of partners to share best practice and experience so we can learn from one another, advocate for change, inform policy and generate platforms for those who have lived through detention. We are members of AVID (Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees) and liaise with many organisations across the UK who work to counter the hostile immigration environment.
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Who we are

Staff

We have a small team of staff, a large body of volunteers and a board of trustees.
Belal Bunian

Belal Bunian

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Blandine Mokenge Nakie

Blandine Mokenge Nakie

Activities Coordinator

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Donna-Louise Cobban

Donna-Louise Cobban

CEO

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Katrina Allen

Katrina Allen

Administrator

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Lorna Delayahu

Lorna Delayahu

In-detention Coordinator

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Volunteers

We could not do the work we do without our team of dedicated volunteers. We hold regular information sessions about what visiting people in Yarl’s Wood involves, and we recruit volunteers throughout the year. If you are interested in volunteering with us, please getin touch.
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Trustees

Our trustees have between them a wide range of skills and experience. Their role is to ensure that the charity achieves the goals and objectives defined in its governing documents, maintains financial and operational viability, and complies with charity law.
Angela Huddart

Angela Huddart

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Catherine Kirk

Catherine Kirk

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Eleanor Hitchman

Eleanor Hitchman

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Jivan Dempsey

Jivan Dempsey

Trustee

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Kristen Hope Burchill

Kristen Hope Burchill

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Robina Pelham Burn

Robina Pelham Burn

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Sarah Grahame

Sarah Grahame

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Stella Shyanguya

Stella Shyanguya

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Beyond Detention welcomes our new CEO

January 17, 2022
We welcome Donna-Louise Cobban
Find out more
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Beyond Detention is totally independent of the UK government, the Home Office and the management of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre (YWIRC).