Monday, 21 March 2011

Boycott Barnardos for Collaborating in the Imprisonment of Children

Unfortunately Barnardos weren’t able to provide ‘care’ and ‘support’ for those waiting in line to be gassed at Auschwitz
The ads are deliberately designed to appeal to your emotions (& your pocket). Three sad and forlorn white children with the strap line ‘Help Exploited Children’ and ‘Watch our TV Ad’ – and just in case you didn’t get the message it is spelt out repeatedly – ‘Donate Now’.

What they don’t tell you is that the search for funds is primarily motivated by the need to keep their staff employed and their organisation ticking over. Children, especially non-white and refugee children, take a low priority.

They also don't mention that there is a history of physical and sexual abuse in Barnardos homes. In particular the organisation was extremely anti-Catholic and children who were Catholic were brought up as Protestants.

13 years ago in Brighton we regularly picketed, every Saturday, the Barnardo’s shop in West Street because the organisation was using the last Tory government’s slave labour scheme Project Work to get young people to carry out work at their charity shop.

However nothing they did then compares to their latest money-grubbing crime. Participation in the detention up of children who are asylum seekers.

When the Tory Lib-Dems came into office, they were pledged to be rid of child imprisonment. At the moment children are detained indefinitely in prisons (detention centres) in order to ensure they don’t escape. These horrific practices were introduced by New Labour and we therefore welcomed their proposed abolition by the Tory-Dems. But we celebrated too soon.
At the AGM of the wonderful Greater Lewes Refugee & Asylum Group (most of its membership is elderly but it does a fantastic amount of work) Emma Ginn of the Medical Foundation spoke about how child detention was continuing under another name. And sure enough, a Family Detention Centre is now being proposed to be built at Pease Pottage in West Sussex.

It is maybe no accident that the Chief Executive of Barnardos up till January was Martin Narey, the former Head of Prisons at the Home Office. Narey openly called for the ending of universal child benefit last October, anticipating George Osborne's announcement.

When I learnt of Barnardos participation in the asylum process, I wrote to them last Tuesday, as did several others including Sue Blackwell of the Academic Boycott id Israel Campaign (see below). I also distributed the following message widely:

It may be a coincidence, but those familiar with the Old Testament will recall that Essau sold his birthright to Jacob for a message of pottage. Barnardos have gone one further. They are going to help run a new detention centre for families at Pease Pottage.

Over a decade ago unemployed activists picketted Barnardos shop in Brighton, forcing them to stop participating in Project Work, a cheap labour scheme with young people coerced into working under threat of loss of benefits. It seems, in their eagerness to lay their hands on ready cash, that Barnardos is up to their old tricks again. The Lib-Dems promised to end the practice of detaining child asylum seekers. Like the rats they are they have ratted out on this one too. Instead there are 'family detention centres' which is no different from what Yarl's Wood and Oakington were supposed to be when they were established. If the kids can't walk out, with their parents, when they want, then it is just a new label on the same old wine.

But Barnardos puts itself about as a child friendly charity, all in favour of children asserting themselves and developing unhindered by authority. Quite how these hypocrites can square this with involvement in the practive of child detention (or maybe foreign children aren't really children?) escapes me. Of course Barnardos aren't alone in only having their child-friendly principles on display when money is being sought. The YMCA's behaviour in Glasgow re the accommodation they run, which led directly to the suicide of one young man recently is indicative of a wider trend in the voluntary sector of entering any contract regardless of what it involves if it means extra cash.

We would therefore ask people to write to and to make a separate complaint to, since the latter are funding Barnardos, who probably haven't advertised their involvement in the practice of child detention.

And if Barnardos doesn't back off with its involvement in the new detention centre in Pease Pottage we intend to picket the shops of these hypocrites until they understand the meaning of ethical behaviour.

In reponse one Sandra Littlebury of Barnardos wrote back . Ignoring the cheery little ‘good afternoon’ – people like Littlebury always like the personal touch – it sounds like a propoganda spiel for the Coalition. Barnardos ‘welcolmes the closure of the family unit at Yarl’s Wood.’ Unfortunately it’s not ending. And then we have a full blooded justification of the policy whose ending they have just welcomed.

Barnardo’s ‘recognises’ i.e. supports the use of ‘very short-term secure pre-departure accommodation’ as if the length of imprisonment mattered one jot.

Not the term ‘secure’ in other words you can’t leave. How is that compatible with ending child imprisonment?

And then of course there is ‘every other avenue’. And thus Littlebury demonstrates, beneath the weasel words of comfort, what a liar she is. What is this 'every other avenue'? Cutting off legal aid from all but the most desperate or lucky asylum seekers? Deporting those in risk of their lives back to their countries because they are unable to become lawyers in another language overnight? Demonising those who are here whilst waging war in their countries?

It is also interesting that there are no Black children in the Barnardo's adverts. Perhaps that's just as well.

Tony Greenstein

Good afternoon Mr Greenstein

Thank you for your e mail which has been passed to me for a reply

Barnardo’s supports the ending of detention of children for immigration purposes and welcomed the closure of the family unit at Yarl’s Wood.

We recognise, however, that when every other avenue has been explored, when a family has no right to remain in the UK and when an independent return panel deems it appropriate – very short-term secure pre-departure accommodation may, as a last resort, be necessary.
As announced Barnardo’s will be providing welfare and social care within the new pre-departure accommodation being established. Barnardo’s wants to ensure that these families are treated humanely with respect and dignity, and are given the correct support through access to welfare and social work services ahead of their departure

Kind regards

Sandra Littlebury
Supporter Care Team Leader

Tel: DDL 0208 498 7131

Every year we help thousands of children turn their lives around. But we cannot do it without you. Visit to find out how you can get involved and show you believe in children.
Barnardo's is a charity (216250 and SC037605) and a company limited by guarantee (61625 England) Registered Office: Tanners Lane, Barkingside, Ilford, Essex, IG6 1QG

To which I responded:

Ms Littlebury,

In other words you are collaborating in an inhumane asylum and deportation process which sends people back to repression and in some cases torture. Your suggestion that ‘when every other avenue is explored’ is both insulting and ignorant. You have no idea of what avenues are or have been explored because if you did you’d be aware of the fact that legal aid has now all but been ended for asylum and immigration purposes. In other words you are willing to act as a purveyor of others’ lies.

All you are doing is beautifying the system and lending your good name to this immoral process.

What you are also doing is getting the Lib Dems and Clegg off a political hook, viz. their promise to end child detention. You say that every year you help turn thousands of children’s lives around. Indeed you do, but perhaps not in the way you meant.

It’s a great pity that you didn’t exist in from 1933-39 when you’d have done a wonderful job explaining why Jewish families had really explored every avenue.

Just let’s hope you can sleep at night.

Tony Greenstein
Secretary – Brighton & Hove TUC Unemployed Workers Centre

Sent: 16 March 2011 15:39

Dear Sir or Madam, I have just read that Barnardo's, one of the charities supported by Red Nose Day, has undertaken to provide services for the new "family detention centre" at Pease Pottage, Sussex. If this is true, I am shocked. Barnardo's should have nothing to do with the detention of children. It should be challenging government policies concerned with under-age asylum seekers, not seeking to profit from them. I have supported Barnardo's in the past, particularly their charity shops in Birmingham, but will not be doing so in the future if this is their idea of looking after children. I look forward to hearing from you. Yours sincerely, Dr. Susan Blackwell Birmingham

I have just read with dismay that Barnardo's will be acting as service provider for the new family detention centre at Pease Pottage, Sussex. It may have been repackaged as “pre-departure accommodation”, but however you try to spin this, it is effectively a prison for containing families. Families who will then be returned to countries from which they have fled, often in fear for their lives or having suffered violence & in some cases torture. Shame on you Barnado's for even considering taking part in this vile business. The way we treat refugees in this country is appalling, and now the government are buying the services of 'charities' to make it seem less brutal. I have donated to Barnardo's in the past, but I will never do so again.


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