Samphire (originally named Dover Detainee Visitor Group) was founded in response to the opening of the Dover Immigration Removal Centre (DIRC) where over 300 men were held with little contact with the outside world. A group of volunteers set up Samphire in 2002, supported by Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN), the Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees (AVID) and Refugee Action. This evolved into our Detention Support project which provided a range of support for detainees in Dover IRC.
Samphire has been operating as an independent registered charity since November 2004 – it is managed by a constitution and complies with all policies and procedures required under charity law. Samphire has evolved over time and according to our clients’ needs. Following identifying an ongoing need for support after detention Samphire established a nationwide Ex-Detainee project to support and advocate for the unique needs of those released from detention back into communities in the UK. Samphire has also established Awareness Raising projects which tackle misconceptions about migration and work with local communities to educate and engage people in learning about and celebrating diversity.
Dover IRC was suddenly closed by the Home Office in Autumn 2015. Unfortunately, this does not reflect a change in wider detention policy in the UK which continues to be the only country in Europe to practice indefinite detention. Following this our detention project has wound down, with much time and effort being put into making sure that detainees transferred to other centres could access the support they need. Into 2016 Samphire continues to run its ex-detainee project and to focus on awareness raising and community outreach.