about us


Since 2002

Changing Attitudes to, and improving lives of ex-detainees and migrant communities.

Our History

Samphire started life as the Dover Detainee Visitor Group back in 2002. It came into being as a result of concerns felt by a number of local residents about the plight of the people detained at the newly established Dover Immigration Removal Centre – a Prison Service operated facility for detaining up to 400 migrants on the site of a disused borstal on Dover’s Western Heights.

Our work started as a volunteer visiting scheme through which people detained could be visited by members of the local community with the purpose of which was to reduce the social isolation of detainees and to extend the hand of friendship. The group registered as a charity in 2004. In the years since then the charity expanded to include a Detention Support Project, a Legal Project, an Awareness Raising Project and an Ex-Detainee Project.

After the closure of Dover Immigration Removal Centre in October 2015, the work of the Detention Support Project and Legal Projects came to an end. The work of the Ex-Detainee Project continued and, following consultation with our volunteers, members and stakeholders, Samphire took the decision to expand the Awareness-Raising aspect of our work. 

In February 2016 Samphire’s Community Engagement Project was established and focuses on working with migrant and British communities to improve social cohesion, and better inclusion of migrants in Dover and surrounding areas of Kent, this is through the Dover Together project and our Schools of Sanctuary Kent programme.

The Ex-Detainee Project was awarded another 3 years of funding in November 2017 and has extended its service by creating the Community Champion Programme in one region of the UK.

In November 2018 Samphire became accredited to provide immigration advice under OISC Level 1 framework.  The new one day a week Immigration Legal Project was rolled out in April 2019 and,  following continued funding, it will be expanded to two days a week in May 2020. 


talks & events

registered ex-detainees

£ in Community donations


Our Mission

to improve the lives of people released from immigration detention and experiencing destitution in the UK, and to support the development of well-informed, cohesive and diverse communities in the Dover area and beyond.

Our Charity

The charity has both a national remit and a local one. Nationally, our Ex-detainee Project provides support and advice to ex-detainees via a Freephone helpline, currently open five days a week. Any ex-detainee, whether a refused asylum seeker, EU migrant, or other, can access free advice about their rights and is enabled by our caseworkers to access services to afford them basic human needs such as better accommodation, food and healthcare.

The majority of ex-detainees, whilst waiting for a resolution to their immigration status, will not be permitted to work. With access to a network of community organisations, Samphire empowers ex-detainees to seek further support in their community, and encourages them to engage through volunteering. Samphire provides an emergency support service for the most vulnerable, to prevent prolonged destitution, with caseworkers giving much needed emotional support.

Samphire’s annual conference brings together active clients, with speakers from relevant organisations to encourage debate and report on developments in the sector. This forum is a key tool for influencing policy makers, and networking.

Locally, in Dover, Samphire runs a community engagement project working with migrant and British communities to improve social cohesion, and better inclusion of migrants into Dover and surrounding areas of Kent. Samphire coordinates a Community Hub- a weekly community group in the Priory Ward of Dover,  The Schools of Sanctuary Kent- raising awareness amongst schools pupils on issues surrounding migration and the Dover Welcome’s All project- a local volunteer group who  organises events, talks and activities such as the multicultural festival. The charity plays a pivotal role in Dover raising awareness around migration and making the town a more welcoming place.

Our Team

Tanya Long

Tanya Long


I joined Samphire in August 2018 as Director. I am thrilled to be returning to the charity, having previously worked here as Fundraising Manager in 2017. I have a life long interest in migration, and have worked in the sector for over 10 years, with experience ranging from  supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children, to setting up a migrant women’s group, and more recently with ex-detainees. I  bring to the role expertise in strategic planning and project development and I am excited about taking forward new ideas at Samphire. I am a good fundraiser with experience also of working in a major national grant maker. I am excited to join a great team at Samphire, and lead the charity forward to achieve our vision.
Indre Lechtimiakyte

Indre Lechtimiakyte

Legal and Migrant Support Manager

Prior to joining Samphire in 2016, I have worked on the return migration project at IOM Vilnius, human rights education and awareness raising projects in Bulgaria and in a private law practice in Lithuania. I hold a degree in Law and Management and LL.M in International Law and Law of International Organisations. At Samphire I lead Immigration Legal Advice and Ex-Detainee projects. I am passionate about my job and I am glad that helping people in need is so rewarding.

Shaun Owen

Shaun Owen

Post Detention Caseworker

I joined Samphire at the end of November 2020 as Post Detention Caseworker. Prior to joining Samphire I worked at Migrant Help as a team leader within the Eligibility, Advice & Guidance Line helping destitute Asylum Seekers and Failed Asylum Seekers. After nearly 8 years working in the Migrant Sector I’d like to think I bring a lot of valued experience to the role especially around the Asylum process and Asylum Support. I am really excited to have joined Samphire and working with such a fantastic team helping improve lives.

Brenda Hounsell

Brenda Hounsell

Finance and Administration Manager

I have worked Samphire since 2009 and am responsible for the day to day running and recording of all things financial and office related. An important part of my role is to provide regular budgeted figures to our board of trustees and management team as well as provide financial advice for our fundraising applications and reporting conditions. I am also responsible for paying the staff, which makes me a popular member of the team.

Frederika Treeby

Frederika Treeby

Community Engagement Coordinator- Schools of Sanctuary

I have worked in many roles in education with students of all ages, but have put this to one side to work on my PhD research. I am interested in the formation of migrant communities, and through this interest, I have become involved with the work of Samphire. I am very concerned with the barriers migrants face in coming to a new country and am eager to bring the Schools of Sanctuary Project to as many schools as I am able to. I hope that by engaging with the younger generation I will be helping to create a safe and welcoming environment for all who are new to our community.


Kay Marsh

Kay Marsh

Community Engagement Coordinator- Dover Together

I joined Samphire in September 2019 as Community Engagement Coordinator. Since returning to the UK and my home town of Dover in 2014, I have been working in the community to improve the town and the lives of its residents, I am a human rights campaigner in my personal life and I hope to bring together my passion in these areas to further the amazing work Samphire does, and make Dover a more welcoming place for all.


Our Trustees

Sara Hutchinson


Joy Stephens


Sara Jones


Dr David Bates

Liza Seed

Becky Sawbridge

Duane Poppe

Dominic Howden

Noel Urbain Barikumwe

Kumba Krubally

Martin Burell