24 Oct 2016, 23 mins ago

Detainees at Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre have been producing handcrafted items to donate to local charities. This initiative forms part of a new voluntary activity scheme run by the Home Office at the centre based near Newark.

Last week residents of the centre gave representatives of Age UK Lincoln their homemade goods, which range from glasses cases to mobile phone holders. They will be donated to older people in the surrounding area and the initiative has met with praise from the charity, with a representative stating: “It’s a fantastic scheme and one that Age UK Lincoln wholeheartedly supports”.

Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre is one of 12 centres in the UK where people are temporarily detained when they have no legal right to reside in the UK but refuse to leave voluntarily, for a variety of reasons.

According to instructional officer Steve Russell, whose brainchild the project is, it gives the centre’s detainees the opportunity to learn vital skills that they can use in the future, whilst also helping a worthy cause. He said that: “The activities are very popular with the detainees, who enjoy knowing that the products are used as charitable donations, and are also able to learn new skills to take with them when they return to their own countries. Many detainees who have chosen to participate in these activities are planning to buy sewing machines when they leave here, to set up their own businesses or enable them to easily find work back home”.

The centre also encourages its residents to get involved in other skills-based craft projects. These include refurbishing garden equipment for schools, making baby clothes for disadvantaged families in the UK and mending old bicycles for African communities.