URGENT: Stop the new detention centre for women in County Durham

The Home Office has opened a new immigration detention centre for women. This is a senseless move in the wrong direction, that will harm vulnerable women. Join us to take urgent action against this new detention centre.


Women for Refugee Women leads the Set Her Free campaign against the detention of refugee women in the UK.

This campaign has already resulted in changes in awareness and understanding – and real policy reform. There is now widespread momentum building from the grassroots to the corridors of power to create wider change. The Set Her Free campaign is shaped by women who have been locked up in detention.

Why We Campaign

More than 1500 women who have come to the UK to seek asylum are locked up in detention every year.

Most of them are not removed from the UK, they are released back into the community to continue with their cases.

There is no time limit on immigration detention – women can be locked up for days, weeks, even months and years.

Detention is unnecessary and expensive – and also very traumatic for women who are detained, many of whom have already survived rape and torture.

We and other organisations have made the case clearly that it would be fairer and more humane for women’s asylum cases to be resolved while they are living in the community.

Because every woman deserves her liberty and a chance to rebuild her life.

Set Her Free


Women for Refugee Women Campaign Set Her Free

What We Have Achieved

Our Set Her Free campaign has achieved real changes in policy and has enabled refugee women themselves to lead calls for change.


Our work has led to policy change

Women for Refugee Women Campaign Parliament Event

In 2016, our campaigning resulted in a 72-hour time limit on the detention of pregnant women.

Women for Refugee Women Campaign Yarls Wood

In 2015, we exposed that male staff were watching women on suicide watch and we pushed for new rules that mean that this no longer happens.

Refugee women are empowered to campaign

Women for Refugee Women Campaign Refugee Women

Refugee women leaders

The campaign is led and shaped by women who have been detained. Over 50 women who have been detained have spoken to politicians, the public and journalists during the campaign with us so far.

Women for Refugee Women Campaign Set Her Free Petition

Meltem Avcil

“I either carry on with my life, and just create an illusion of happiness, or I do something about this”

said Meltem Avcil who created the Set Her Free petition signed by over 100,000 people and won awards for her campaigning.

We have changed minds about detention

Women for Refugee Women Campaign Research Reports

Robust research

Our research reports have transformed understanding of who is being detained and the effects of detention. We have held the Government to account and provided evidence that has been used as the basis for reforms.

Women for Refugee Women Campaign BBC News Robbina

Stories in the media

We place stories about detention throughout the media, from BBC Woman’s Hour to Sky News, from the Guardian to the Telegraph, from Stylist to Teen Vogue. For instance, we worked with Channel 4 News for their influential investigation of conditions in Yarl’s Wood.

Women for Refugee Women Campaign Angelina Jolie

Influential supporters

We work with many inspiring supporters to raise awareness of detention. For instance, Angelina Jolie wrote a message for us in solidarity with detained women. In 2016, 99 influential women supported our calls to end the detention of pregnant women.

Women for Refugee Women Campaign Protests At Yarls Wood


We organise events up and down the country, including protests, plays and debates.  In 2015 we organised the biggest ever protest at Yarl’s Wood detention centre. In 2017 our drama group performed their Set Her Free poem at the Women’s March on London to over 80,000 people.

Women for Refugee Women Campaign MumsNet Womens Institute Solidarity Quilt


We work with dozens of other organisations, from the Women’s Institute – with whom we knitted a fantastic solidarity quilt, to Mumsnet – who made a powerful video for us about pregnant women in detention. We are currently working with Liberty, Amnesty International and Detention Forum to end indefinite detention.

Women for Refugee Women Campaign Evidence

Working with Parliamentarians

We are in contact with politicians of all major parties, give evidence to committees and inquiries, and help shape policy proposals. During the campaign, Women for Refugee Women has been mentioned over 50 times in Parliament and Yarl’s Wood has been mentioned nearly 300 times.

What You Can Do

and be part of this amazing community