26 November 2014
Serco has won a new eight-year contract from the UK Home Office to continue running Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC).
A series of improvements are to be made at the centre including significant investment in multilingual 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 its voluntary sector partner Hibiscus Initiatives, which provides detainee support and advocacy and assists 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. It will offer more than 65 optional daily work places and a wide range of educational, recreational and multi-faith activities.
Serco is also introducing a new care suite and a welfare advocacy hub. The care suite will be for pregnant women and other vulnerable residents.
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.
Residents will continue to be supported by 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 renewed contract to manage the centre was awarded after a competition and has a total value of about £70 million 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 men's spaces. Rooms in the family unit are twin-bedded and interconnected in pairs to allow families to stay together.