G4S who manage the Pease Pottage ‘pre-departure accommodation centre’ where families are forcibly held for up to a week prior to enforced removal by the UK Border Agency have refused to allow Santa to deliver Christmas gifts to the children held behind the 2.5m security fence.
The Eastbourne branch of the Lush cosmetic chain had collected luxury soaps, chocolate and toys to be taken as presents to families, but despite repeated requests, volunteers from SOAS Detainee Support Group had been barred by the centre’s managers who cited ‘health and safety and security’ reasons.
G4S staff also refused to come to the gates to accept the gifts on behalf of the families – repeating the Scrooge like stance adopted by the UK Border Agency when it refused entry to St Nicholas at the Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre two years ago.
Lush local campaigns co-ordinator Liz Snook told the West Sussex County Times: “All we’re trying to do here is give some children some presents”.
“We’re prepared to go through whatever is demanded of us, but instead we’ve been met with rudeness and flat refusal.”
“We want the families held under this frightening system to know that we’ve not forgotten them.”
The coalition government continues to claim that it has ended child detention in the United Kingdom.