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Serco awarded contract to continue running Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre


Serco will introduce a series of improvements and innovations at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) under a new eight year contract awarded by the UK Home Office to continue running the Centre.  Serco will draw on best practice from around the world to ensure that the highest standard of care is provided for residents at all times and to place even more emphasis on the needs of individual detainees.

These improvements will be facilitated by a significant investment in next-generation, multi-lingual self-service kiosk technology that will allow residents to take more responsibility for planning and controlling their day and undertake day-to-day tasks such as menu ordering, visit and appointment booking, activity timetable scheduling and management of personal finances.

Serco will also offer a range of personal development initiatives including short duration development courses and educational training.  Some of these will be supported by our voluntary sector partner Hibiscus Initiatives, who provide detainee support and advocacy and who assist in preparing residents for return in the UK and support them in-country with business activities and advice.  This will include basic certification that will support residents in finding work on their return to their country of origin.  By offering over 65 optional daily work places and a wide range of educational, recreational and multi-faith activities, a significant number of residents will at any one time be engaged in constructive and purposeful activity.

Serco is also introducing a new dedicated Care Suite and a new Welfare Advocacy Hub.  The Care Suite will be for vulnerable residents and pregnant women and will be designed to reduce the anxieties and pressures individuals may be feeling living at the Centre. The Welfare Advocacy Hub will be a drop-in centre where residents can discuss issues with a Serco or Hibiscus Initiatives welfare worker in an informal environment. Visits will be bookable through the new self-service kiosks and the hub will also be made available to other voluntary sector organisations with whom Serco will continue to work at Yarl’s Wood, ensuring that residents can discuss and resolve issues with the organisation of their choice.

The residents at the Centre will be continue to be supported with a variety of specialist services, including a comprehensive range of welfare services; dedicated healthcare team including GPs, Nurses, Health Visitors, Midwives, Dentists and Counsellors; mental health services; faith and cultural provision and educational and recreational activities, including the ’Cultural Kitchens’ where residents prepare their own cultural dishes in a well-equipped kitchen and dining area.

The new contract to continue managing Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre was awarded after a competition and has a total value of approximately £70m over the initial eight year period, with an option to extend for a further three years.

Yarl’s Wood IRC opened in 2001, with Serco operating the contract since December 2006.  The Centre holds a maximum of 410 residents, including 304 single women’s spaces, 68 family spaces and 38 male spaces. Rooms in the family unit are twin-bedded and interconnected in pairs to allow families to be located together.

Yarl’s Wood is regularly subject to scrutiny by a variety of independent bodies, such as the Care Quality Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMCIP) and the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB).  Most recently, the IMB stated in its 2013 Annual Report that ’the general impression is of a bright and cheerful establishment’ and recognised many of the initiatives that have been undertaken in the last year.  In its 2013 report HMCIP ’found Yarl’s Wood continuing to improve, with managers and staff working hard to run a safe and respectful establishment’.  Both reports made recommendations for further improvements and most of these have already been put in place.

James Thorburn, Serco’s Managing Director Home Affairs, stated: “We are very pleased that the Home Office has entrusted us with the management and operation of Yarl’s Wood for a further eight years.  We understand the challenges of looking after vulnerable and concerned people and we recognise the responsibility that we have in managing the Centre in a caring and efficient manner.  We know that the people who are in our care are at a difficult stage of their lives.  The team at the Centre work hard to ensure that they are safe and treated with respect and that the highest standard of care is provided for them at all times.”


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