Government funding for asylum advice: Mixed news for the Refugee Council
The Refugee Council has been awarded a new Home Office grant to continue its work with separated child asylum seekers in England, but has also learned that it was not granted Home Office funding for a new national advice service for adult asylum seekers.
The Refugee Council has been supporting and assisting young, separated, asylum seekers since 1994, working with them directly and also advising the Local Authorities, other NGOs, solicitors and individuals involved in providing support. The Refugee Council ‘Children’s Panel’ is the only service of its kind in England and this new grant will enable us to further extend the vital assistance we provide to young, separated asylum seekers.
However, this good news has been tempered by the notification that the Home Office has selected Migrant Help as the provider of its new national advice service for adult asylum seekers that is due to commence in April 2014.
The Refugee Council has been funded by the UK Government to provide advice to asylum seekers, at all stages of the asylum system, since 2000, and though the new service will be a much reduced version of what we presently provide, we submitted a consortium bid for the funding in the name of the Asylum Support Partnership (ASP) which comprises the Refugee Council, Refugee Action, Northern Refugee Centre, North of England Refugee Service, and the Scottish and Welsh Refugee Councils.
Maurice Wren Chief Executive of Refugee Council said: “We are delighted to have successfully secured Home Office funding to continue delivering advice and support to children who are separated from their families and seeking asylum, on their own, in the UK.
“However, we are also disappointed not to have secured the contract for working with adult asylum seekers. The Refugee Council is the leading organisation working with refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and has been offering practical advice and support to people seeking safety here since 1951. We believe our significant experience gives us unparalleled insight into the complex workings of the Home Office asylum system and we are disappointed not to be able to draw on this expertise to deliver the Government’s new advice service.
“We would like to congratulate Migrant Help on its successful bid and our first priority will of course be to work closely with Migrant Help to ensure that asylum seekers are unaffected by the changes to both service and provider in April 2014.”
The Refugee Council will continue to support adult asylum seekers, providing a range of services including counselling and therapeutic help, advice and practical help with integration, a befriending service and assistance for refugees resettled in the UK via the UN’s Gateway programme.
Maurice Wren added: “The Refugee Council remains resolute in its commitment to defend and promote the rights of refugees in the UK and will continue to work with the Government to convince it that fairness, justice and the respectful treatment of people who exercise their right to seek protection from persecution are essential prerequisites for an efficient, cost effective and credible asylum system.”