Refugee Action announced last Thursday that it is launching a new programme to help asylum seekers understand the asylum system and avoid falling into crisis.
The programme will cover the whole of England and it brings together Refugee Action and seven other refugee and migrant support organisations: MRANG (Merseyside Refugee & Asylum Seekers Pre & Postnatal Support Group), Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum, Action Foundation, PAFRAS, Southwark Day Centre, Bristol Refugee Rights and Brushstrokes.
The new Early Action Charter for People Seeking Asylum Programme has secured £1.1m in funding, including £850,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.
Tim Hilton, head of services and good practice at Refugee Action, said the programme aims to transform the ‘crisis culture’ within asylum services, whereby asylum seekers too often end up destitute.
“People seeking asylum say that understanding the UK’s complex system and how to engage with it effectively at key decision-making points, would help them avoid crisis … Our goal is to support thousands of people seeking safety to navigate the asylum system effectively and prevent them falling into poverty and destitution,” Hilton said.
Hilton told Sky News that the majority of asylum seekers lack basic knowledge about legal rights, accessing lawyers or negotiating applications and interviews.
“They get plunged into this incredibly difficult legal process and their lives depend on it … It takes an absolutely terrible toll. We work with people on a daily basis who’ve had their cases refused and been in limbo for years, had families break down, developed profound mental health issues, of becoming destitute and living in parks”, Sky News quoted him as saying.
Hilton said the problems mean asylum seekers are more likely to fail in their applications.
According to Sky News, a pilot programme which saw Refugee Action offer early guidance to asylum seekers resulted in 58% of participants being granted asylum compared to a 24% success rate for all asylum seekers in the UK in 2016.