Images courtesy of Scottish Detainee Visitors / Life After Detention

The harm caused by detention does not end once a person is released. For many, the trauma of detention, and the struggles with uncertainty, continue.

This is the subject of ‘Life After Detention’, a new film made in collaboration with the Life After Detention group from Scottish Detainee Visitors. The group filmed aspects of their life in Glasgow on their mobile phones and worked with film-maker and SDV volunteer, Alice Myers, to create the film. It was premiered at an Unlocking Detention event on Tuesday 12 December at the Glad Cafe in Glasgow.

The Life After Detention group are a group of men and women who have been detained. The group provides peer support, casework and a space for creative activity. They have published writing on SDV’s website, and have performed their work at SDV events, including at SDV’s joint meeting at the Scottish Parliament with UNHCR, Detention Action and the Detention Forum. The ten people in the Life After Detention group were detained for four years and eight months in total.

You can watch the film below, and through this link.

In the film, members of the group describe their experiences post-detention:

“Home Office, they have put fear inside us. It is really difficult to get rid of this fear. Sometimes it appears in dreams at night. Sometimes it comes in a different way during the day.”

“I’m not what I was. Sometimes I think that there is a banner on my face, everyone knows that I have been in detention. It has just changed all my whole personality.”

“I’m not who I was three years ago. I felt very strong… now I don’t feel such strength. When you know lots of people around you, you think that they as a human, they have rights. But you don’t have rights as a human. So that is really painful, because then you realise that you are not human.”

The long-lasting effects of indefinite detention are a theme we have heard throughout this year’s Unlocking Detention tour; for example, in Juan’s poem about the planned closure of the Verne, part of which says,

“When you have experienced detention, you walk every day with the experience on your back.
It is a trauma that follows you everywhere.
You are always looking behind you. 
I think a part of me died in detention.
I am different person now.”