A CHARITY whose volunteers visit detainees at an immigration centre has warned the future of its support group is “unsustainable” if the facility expands.

Asylum Welcome sounded the warning over plans to increase Kidlington’s 276-bed Campsfield House immigration centre by 290 beds.

The visiting service, based in Magdalen Road, East Oxford, was started by residents when the centre opened in 1993 to talk to people and give practical help like contacting family members.

Asylum Welcome director Kate Smart said: “Asylum Welcome’s visiting service, a lifeline for Campsfield detainees, will be unsustainable if Home Office expansion plans to double the numbers held at the centre go ahead.

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“Asylum Welcome is seriously worried that it will not be able to provide a visitor service to so many detainees from its current resources.

“A service that has operated since the centre was established may come to an end, and the link to the outside world will be broken, with major implications for the fair treatment of those detained and their families.”

The charity is now appealing for funds. Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather, chairwoman of a Parliamentary inquiry on immigration detention, supported the group at an event at Wesley Memorial Church in Oxford last Wednesday.

She said: “Visitors groups provide vital support and a link to the outside world.

“Asylum Welcome has contributed to this for many years and long may it continue.”

The charity is against increasing the size of Campsfield House, claiming there are problems in the way it is being run and that expanding it would worsen the situation.

Cherwell District Council will consider whether to grant planning permission for the expansion of the immigration centre.

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