Today, Friday 19 November 2021, marks 20 years since Yarl’s Wood detention centre was opened.

To mark this, we gathered at the site with women who have previously been detained there to call on the government to permanently close Yarl’s Wood and to stop detaining women.

For 20 years, Yarl’s Wood has been a site of cruelty. Despite repeated calls for closure, reports of racist abuse and the widely documented harm to the mental and physical health of women detained there, Yarl’s Wood is still open. It is time to shut it down.

Here’s a selection of photographs from the day. Together we made a lot of noise to send messages of solidarity, hope and love to those currently detained at Yarl’s Wood, and to show the government that it is time to close it down and end detention altogether.

Campaigners and women who were formerly detained gather at the entrance of Yarl’s Wood to demand that it be shut down
Thousands have been traumatised over the 20 years Yarl’s Wood has been open as an immigration detention centre
Agnes Tanoh, Women for Refugee Women’s Detention Campaigns Spokesperson

Being locked up in detention when you need protection destroys a woman. I know this because I was locked up at Yarl’s Wood for more than 3 months by the Home Office, before they recognised that I am a refugee.

Immigration detention is a deliberate tactic they use for the only purposes of harming vulnerable women and to allow private companies to make money from the pain of women.

I don’t want any more of my sisters to be locked up or for their families to be ripped apart.

Agnes Tanoh

Remembering those who died in detention at Yarl’s Wood

For many women who joined us today, it was their first time back at Yarl’s Wood since they were released from detention.

Today I’m taking back my power. Yarl’s Wood can’t have a hold over me anymore. I am free. – ‘B’

20 years a disgrace
It’s time to shut down Yarl’s Wood!

The government chooses detention, harm, abuse.

We choose kindness and compassion.

Stand with us and take action to stop the proposed new detention centre for women, in County Durham, from opening: