Helping immigration detainees across the UK

AVID is the membership network for all volunteer visitors to immigration removal centres, short term holding facilities, and prisons: anywhere someone is held for immigration purposes in the UK. Since 1994 we have sought to ensure detainees rights are protected and to promote access to volunteer visitors.

The UK detains around 30,000 people every year. Detention in the UK is without time limit, and there is no automatic judicial oversight on decisions to detain. As a result, many people end up incarcerated for long periods of time- in some cases even years- with no idea of what will happen to them. A volunteer visitor is often the only person a detainee sees who is not an official. Many feel isolated, confused, angry and frightened. A visitor, acting in lieu of friends and family, can be their eyes and ears on the outside and provide essential emotional and practical support throughout this difficult time.

AVID works to promote the welfare and human dignity of immigration detainees by advocating for change to the detention system. We work with and through our membership network of grassroots visitors groups, collating evidence on the daily realities of immigration detention and using this to present a collective voice for change based on lived experiences.

We provide training, resources and support to volunteers; produce regular information and briefings on detention; and advocate for changes in the detention system to the benefit of all detainees.  Our network includes 21 visitors groups visiting places of detention across the UK. You can find out more about our work using the links on the left.


Report of the findings of first Parliamentary Inquiry into Immigration Detention 

The report of the findings of the first ever Parliamentary Inquiry into the use of Immigration Detention in the UK was launched today (3rd March 2015). You can read the report in full here. Following six months of written and oral testimony from a widespread range of witnesses, the Inquiry (a joint initiative of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Migration) has concluded that the system needs a radical overhaul. AVID welcomes the report. You can read our response here, and our written evidence submitted to the inquiry here


AVID's 20th anniversary project - the oral history of volunteer visiting - launched on 28th November 2014 with the screening of our new film, Hidden Stories, which you can access here. The Hidden Stories Film is collated testimony from volunteer visitors, and former detainees who were supported, over the last 20 years. In their own words, they shared with us their experiences of visiting and of being visited, and the impact it had on them and their communities, as well as on attitudes to detention. It is the first such study to use visitors' own voices, giving unprecedented insight into the work of AVID and volunteer visitors groups. 

Hidden Stories will continue throughout 2015 with a report and other online materials - watch this space! 

Latest figures on UK's use of detention 

We have produced our latest short briefing on the size and scale of the UK's use of detention- as at September 2014 there are 4270 places in detention (excluding prisons). Read more here

Message from our Patron:

Picture of AVID patron, Colin Firth


"Often the volunteer visitor is the only person a detainee can turn to for support in confidence.  I am extremely proud to be  associated with AVID, the charity which works with those volunteers - people who work with immigration detainees, and provides information, training and advocacy support to some 20 groups spread across the country. AVID believes that detainees should have the same basic human rights as the rest of us, and is working to make that happen."     

Colin Firth (read the full letter here)


Contact AVID:

You can contact AVID, using the 'Contact AVID' link to the left, or by calling 0207 281 0533. 

Patrons: Colin Firth, Lord David Ramsbotham GCB CBE, and John Scampion CBE

Address: Archway Resource Centre, 1b Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ

Registered Charity Number: 1063784





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