Changing Attitudes to, and improving lives of ex-detainees and migrant communities.
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 Welcomes All 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 their service by creating the Community Champion Programme in four regions of the UK.
talks & events
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.
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 four 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.
Ex-Detainee Project Coordinator- OISC Level 1 Adviser
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. I am passionate about my job and I am glad that helping people in need is so rewarding.
Senior Project Coordinator
I joined Samphire in 2012. I have worked in the field of asylum and immigration since 2002, including five years at Refugee and Migrant Justice representing migrants in their asylum and immigration matters. I was previously OISC Level 3 and IAAS accredited. I have a significant background in social care, mainly working with people with emotional and behavioural difficulties. In 2016 I completed two years of study and was awarded a level 2 and 3 certificate in counselling skills & studies from the CPCAB. I am passionate about social justice and love working for Samphire.
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.
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.
Community Engagement Coordinator- Dover Welcomes All
I have recently joined Samphire after working for many years in the field of homelessness. I am particularly excited by co-designing, with residents, activities that will bring people from different and diverse backgrounds together. I have campaigned on issues of migration and refugees and hope to use this in my work to aid Dover and Kent become more welcoming . I believe that when we share stuff we realise how much we have in common, whether that be sharing food or sharing a changing room before playing football!
Dr Soeren Keil
Dr David Bates