31 July 2012
Kate Adams is a volunteer caseworker at Kent Refugee Help who has worked with many immigration detainees held at Dover Immigration Removal Centre. Here Kate explains how her book of poems, The Cheering Rain, came into existence.
The Cheering Rain – Writing and Working for Freedom By Kate Adams
I have been working on a voluntary basis with refugees and migrants since 2002 when I began visiting detainees at Dover Immigration Removal Centre. The Detention Centre, originally a Napoleonic fort holds up 316 male detainees. It was converted from a young offenders’ unit and is still run by the prison service. I was also involved in a campaigning group at this time and there were regular protests outside the centre. Local people who were concerned about the effect of detention on vulnerable refugees formed a support group to stand bail for detainees. This was a separate group from the Detainee Visitor Group. There was such a high demand for this kind of support and for care to continue after release that we fund raised for a caseworker.
In 2007 Kent Refugee Help was registered as a charity with funding for a part time paid caseworker. The charity focuses on helping detainees find sureties for immigration bail, as well as legal representation and medical support. We work with people for as long as they feel they need us, including after release. Although we cannot find a bail surety for everyone no one is turned away and everyone referred receives a visit to assess their situation.
Many of our clients are former foreign national offenders facing deportation. Their crimes are often linked to destitution, to trauma and to the very process of forced migration by which they are defined as illegal.
Detention is often protracted by the UKBA’s failure to obtain travel documents. It impacts negatively on detainees’ mental and physical health. When a detainee I was involved with became mute through extreme stress I started writing poems to help myself deal with this deeply worrying situation.
In March 2012 Conversation Paperpress published a collection of my poems, The Cheering Rain, inspired by my experiences with immigration detainees. I am arranging readings and also showing a short film about Dover Immigration Removal Centre to raise awareness. All proceeds from book sales at these events go to Kent Refugee Help.
If you would like me to arrange a reading for your organization please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The website address is: www.kentrefugeehelp.org.uk
A Short film about Dover Immigration Removal Centre by Levi Roberts and Jess Dadds
The Publishers (Buy the book online. One third of the proceeds of sale goes to Kent Refugee Help.)
A recording for Refugee Radio in Brighton made by Stephen Silverwood also featuring the Migrant English Project and Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group.
The Moment of Crossing
You had one bag which contained your world.
We went through the gates. You told me
how you had torn up your documents,
thrown them to the wind.
They blew about the trousers of the guards.
In the taxi we saw the dark extending
and all the lights of Dover.
You could not believe your freedom,
three long years without touching a girl,
without beer. In the train we passed
through tunnels, stopped at a station
where hundreds of students waited,
young as you had been before,
then the sea at the edge of my town
black full of mud and questions.
The Cheering Rain