When Maravan* had to have two teeth taken out around six years ago, he was taken to hospital in handcuffs and remained handcuffed during the operation. No one told him why he had to be handcuffed.

Maravan, who is from India, had developed dental problems while being held at a detention centre in Dover. He had left India in September 2010, after he was injured in an outbreak of political violence, and had smuggled himself into the UK in a lorry from France. He was picked up by the police on arrival and spent a year at Dover Immigration Removal Centre.

Maravan, who is also diabetic, continued to suffer from severe facial pain after he was released from the centre. He was not registered with a GP or a dentist and so he came to Doctors of the World’s clinic in London after a friend told him about it.

“If I had not come to this clinic, I would have suffered a lot with my medical problems without any help,” he says.

Doctors of the World volunteers helped Maravan get an appointment at the dental emergency clinic at St. Barts hospital and organised for someone to go with him as he did not speak English. They also registered him with a dentist and a GP, as well as completing an exemption form allowing him to have free dental treatment because he was destitute.

Although Maravan’s health has improved since he first came to the clinic, he still has problems because of his immigration status. He was arrested again in 2014 and held in a detention centre in Oxford for 56 days.

*Not his real name.

Photo by Julian Anderson.