So Tuesday was the day we’d been waiting for.
We don’t officially know the outcome yet, so I’m not going to labour on that point.
What a surreal experience it was.
As we drove into the car park for the tribunal hearing, we were immediately faced with a detention centre.
At the moment this really has little relevance to our experience at the hearing, but I will come back to its significance later on.
Walking into the building where the tribunal was being held, we were frisked and had our bags searched.
We were then shown to the waiting area where we met the barrister for the first time. He was a nice chap. He explained that it was unlikely that we would be called into the hearing before 11, but he would speak to A before the hearing commenced to ensure he knew what to expect.
We were left in the waiting room which wasn’t too dissimilar to that of a doctors waiting room. There were around 8-10 people either waiting for their cases to be heard, or like me, accompanying those who were waiting for a hearing. We were the most smartly dressed people in the room too. Both of us suited up. Everyone else was there in their traditional dress or jeans and hoodies.
Everyone looked nervous.
Another barrister came and sat between me and a lady who was there to have her case heard. The barrister openly talking to the lady about her case. I was shocked. This ladies case sounded complex and included crimes against her such as sexual assault. I was sad for the lady that her case was no longer private. I knew so much about her without having spoken to her. I tried not to listen, but it’s hard to block it out when you are sitting so close.
I took a book with me to read, as I figured we would be waiting for a while. But there was no chance of me reading it. I couldn’t focus on anything other than what lay ahead.
When it was time for A’s case to be heard, I was able to enter the room with him, but had to sit at the back of the room, as an observer.
The room was nothing like we had expected. There were 4 tables in the room. A sat at one, his barrister another, and the man from the home office on another. The third, was empty.
In front of these desks, on a raised platform, was a table that stretched across the width of the room. This was where the judge would be sitting.
As the judge entered into the room, the barrister gestured to us both to rise from our seats.
After what must’ve been 15 minutes tops, the judge informed us that it could take up to 2 weeks to receive the outcome. The hearing was over and we were asked to leave.
All that stress and worry for a 15 minute hearing!
As we drove out of the car park, there were 2 coaches sitting outside the detention centre, presumably waiting to transport some of those inside to nearby Heathrow airport.
One thing that had never occurred to me is the process for sending detainees back to the countries they are from.
I spoke to A about this while we waited for his hearing. I had no idea that if visa’s aren’t granted, people can end up in a detention centre, waiting to be deported. As naive as it sounds, I thought they would be able to travel on a ‘normal’ plane, and that detention centres were for criminals and asylum seekers. I didn’t realise that people with visa rejections can end up there too.
Seeing the coach outside afterwards made me feel sick. God knows how long people have to wait in a detention centre before they are bundled onto a plane back to their native countries. I can’t even bear to imagine what the conditions are like inside.
Needless to say, the last few weeks have taken it’s toll and as I just about keep my eyes open wide enough to type, I am well and truly exhausted. It’s been such an emotional rollercoaster. One that sadly, isn’t over just yet.