Today, Saturday 21 August, local campaign groups No To Hassockfield, Abolish Hassockfield and the Durham People’s Assembly are demonstrating against the planned new detention centre for women at Hassockfield in County Durham. Our Agnes Tanoh shares this speech in support of this demonstration to stop Hassockfield.



My name is Agnes.
I am a 60 year old woman.
I was locked up at Yarl’s Wood detention centre, when I was seeking sanctuary.

In my country, I was the assistant to the First Lady.
When civil war broke out my life was in danger. Friends and colleagues were killed. Escaping was the only way to survive. So I came to the UK.
I needed safety. But instead, I was locked up for more than 3 months.

After 7 years of waiting, telling the same story, I finally got my refugee status.
The government finally agreed I needed protection.
So, why was I locked up?
Why was I harmed?

Can you imagine the things I saw in detention?
Detention destroys a woman, destroys our mental health, destroys our hope.
I saw a woman try to kill herself.
I saw guards abuse women.
I saw families broken down.
Can you imagine what happens to a child separated from their mum because she is in prison?
Detention achieves nothing except making a few private companies richer.
All it does is harm our fellow human beings.

My heart is here with you today.
Together we are standing against the detention of vulnerable women.
Together we want to support women who have fled persecution, torture or slavery.
Together we will keep fighting to stop Hassockfield.
Together we will win.

The Home Office promised to detain fewer women.
We must hold them to account!
No more detention centres should be built.
Instead, shut them down!

I say, ‘SET HER FREE’!
Give her a chance to rebuild her life.
Give her a chance to be a human being.
Give her a chance to be free.

Let us say something,
Let us do something good,
Let us be compassionate,
Let us share love.

Can we women who are seeking safety count on you?
If yes, then let us say together ‘No to Hassockfield’!

Take action with Agnes! Please sign and share Agnes’s petition against the proposed new detention centre for women at Hassockfield: