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If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us.

Larne House is a Short Term Holding Facility (STHF) and part of the UK system of Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs). It is the only such facility in Northern Ireland.  Larne House has space for 19 detainees. It is located at the back of the police station in Hope Street, Larne, County Antrim.

The facility is a centre for transitory detention. Detainees are held there for no more than seven days and are then transferred to another detention centre within the UK or released. Larne House Visitor Group (LHVG) can put detainees in touch with other visitors groups when they are moved to other Immigration Removal Centres.

People are held in detention centres across the UK for a number of reasons. Some are waiting for a decision about their status, others have had their entry refused, and some people have expired visas or are undocumented migrants. The most common category is asylum seekers, that is, people who are applying for refugee status.

The UK is unique in Europe in not having a time limit on this kind of detention. Most of the detainees are held for less than two months, but many are held for longer and in some cases for years. Indefinite detention causes acute anxiety, stress and exacerbates existing mental health issues.

The IRCs are largely run by private security corporations, contracted by the Home Office. The use of subcontractors has resulted in a general decrease of the quality of the service provided, inconsistencies in the system and problems related to accountability. Evidence suggests that this use of private companies increases the risk of abuse of detainees.

A powerful documentary film by Ross Field of Videoblogg Productions provides further information on what immigration detention is, the harm it causes and the campaign to end immigration detention.

Volunteer support can help support someone in immigration detention. Some detainees do not have friends or family in the UK and speak little English. A visitor could be the only person that a detainee sees who is not an official. Providing a listening ear and a sense of emotional and moral support can help reduce isolation and ease the trauma of detention.

Moreover, visitors can help detainees in accessing legal advice and medical assistance. On a practical level they can help by topping up phones and collecting belongings or providing clothes. They can also inform the staff at the detention centre and appropriate outside organisations about any problems that they may detect.

Larne House Visitor Group (LHVG) aims to provide at least one visit per week to Larne House. Volunteers visit in pairs. During Covid19 restrictions, visits were suspended and we communicated with those held in detention using Skype.

Visiting can be both difficult and rewarding.

We provide training to all volunteers before they take on a visitor role. For those that don’t want to take on a visiting role we have other tasks such as helping to organise events e.g. our annual solidarity walk, awareness raising and fundraising.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us.

“Sometimes it can be difficult in terms of communication, or trying to reach solicitors, or finding people in fragile states of mind. Other times it can be rewarding, and if I can help either link families together or get legal representation for someone, or just have a long chat with someone, it can be very rewarding.”

– Larne House Visitor Group Volunteer