Protestors make their voices heard as immigration minister visits Glasgow
December 16, 2009 by Martin Graham
As Christmas shoppers sought out gifts in the City Centre, members of the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees organised a protest at Brand Street detention centre in support of the friends Florence and Precious Mhango.
The campaigners were trying to attract the attention of Minister of State for immigration Phil Woolas, who was visiting the centre. Florence and Precious were living in Cranhill and had become part of the community. In early November, they were detained at Brand Street during one of their regular signing appointments, and removed to Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire.
Precious’s godmother, Chris Mercer, was on hand to remind the minister that the Christmas cheer is in short supply for those in detention.
Chris said: ‘Precious is only 10 years old, all her friends in Cranhill are getting ready for Christmas while she is being held far from home. I speak to them every day, and Precious has been feeling depressed. The Children’s Society has been in to visit them. It’s a month since they have been held in detention.’
Friends of the pair have been raising funds and campaigning for their release. The campaigners said that they spotted Mr Woolas and his entourage inside the Brand Street building and held their banners up to draw attention to their cause. They reported that the blinds were then drawn on the room.
A press officer for the Home Office would only say that Mr Woolas had toured Dungavel and was ‘impressed’ with the facility.