These bones from arid countries that have walked, run, climbed, crawled, sailed, clung on and hidden for two years on the journey from Africa and the Middle East to reach their promised land, the United Kingdom... when winter comes, having made it this far, if it is an unkind one, some will almost certainly die.
I have seen how detention is bad for the physical and emotional wellbeing of those detained, especially those who are kept there for months, not knowing when it will end. It is important to remember that these are not criminals but people who have been refused asylum or broken immigration rules - complex systems which few people understand. I believe that if an asylum seeker has the reasonable reason to stay within the government rules they should grant them asylum or send them home with dignity -not keep them in detention for a long period. Detention breaks the soul.
In truth I was grateful for all the things that eventually made Britain my home. But I was also angry. Angry for all the hoops I had to jump through to get the same rights as others who were born here, as if begging entry to some exclusive club I wasn't allowed to join even though it was located at my house.
My thoughts on this have been very mixed. I too have very strong views on Israel's aggression towards Palestine. But I find myself questioning whether picketing a small hip hop show at an arts festival is the best way to make a demonstration. Does the theatre company's receipt of a government grant really make them complicit in the assault on Gaza?
I've made a film called Leave to Remain - an odd title that displays the absurdly English wordplay that describes the 'permission' that the home office grants asylum seekers to give them 'leave' to 'remain' in this country either definitely or indefinitely. It's a fitting title for the wilfully confusing system that determines worthiness for refugee status.
Refugees consistently face some of the toughest choices imaginable - whether to stay where they are and face rape, torture or death or leave behind their family, everything they have and know to embark on a dangerous - all too often fatal - flight into the unknown. Here's where I'm supposed to say: 'Imagine if it were you, facing such a choice. Imagine if it were your mother or brother". But you don't need to be patronised. We're all more than capable of empathy. Yet we continue to treat refugees with ignorance and even contempt. Why does our collective empathy so often fail to manifest in our treatment of such a vulnerable group?
In our report, we found that systematic failures from successive governments had left many destitute, with levels of support inadequate to meet even basic living needs. As one mother told the panel, "I would buy one meal which I will share with my son. My son, is my priority, therefore I will provide his nutritional needs before my own and occasionally starving myself." The government said that they would take our findings into consideration, but I was extremely disappointed when, in June last year, the Home Office announced that they were freezing the support rates.
Refugees come to the UK in fear of their lives, having fled the horrors of violent conflict, persecution, rape or other forms of torture or harm. They are met by a complex, insensitive and fiercely adversarial asylum system that all too often lets them down and, by association, lets us and the liberties we cherish, down too.