Alternatives to detention: evaluation of second pilot

The Refugee and Migrant Advice Service is the second pilot in the Community Engagement Pilot series.
Two women talking and laughing at a table.
  • Publishing date:
    23 August 2023

We were commissioned by UNHCR and the Home Office to undertake an independent evaluation of the Refugee and Migrant Advice Service (RMAS) run by King’s Arms Project. 

About the study

The Refugee and Migrant Advice Service is the second pilot in the Community Engagement Pilot series and should be read in conjunction with the evaluation of Action Access. The RMAS pilot was designed by the Home Office and King’s Arms Project with input from UNHCR and other stakeholders working in the field of asylum and migration management. It was delivered by King’s Arms Project and provided support within the community. Participants had a legal advisor over 3 meetings for support with immigration casework and received more holistic support from King’s Arms Project. The pilot’s main aim was to test approaches to immigration management and lessons for future policy. 


RMAS provided support within the community to up to 50 pilot participants at any one time. The evaluation found the three-meeting legal model to work well. The pilot increased participants’ understanding of their immigration cases and their possible future options. The support helped participants gain increased knowledge of and confidence in accessing their entitlements. The pilot was seen to have benefits in terms of self-esteem and wellbeing, above and beyond providing the opportunity for participants to engage with legal counselling. Whilst the main aim of the pilot was to support participants with their insecure immigration status to achieve case resolution, the nature of the holistic support on offer meant that their immigration status was not seen in isolation to other aspects of their daily life. This second pilot in the series built on the collaborative working relationship between the voluntary sector and the Home Office, established during the Action Access pilot.


The evaluation comprised the following elements:

  • Desk research: A review of pilot documentation and relevant literature; analysis of management information data and costs data provided by the Home Office and King’s Arms Project.
  • Research with pilot participants: In-depth narrative interviews with 20 pilot participants (10 men and 10 women). These were carried out at three stages.
  • Research with delivery and strategic stakeholders: Ongoing delivery interviews with six members of staff (managers and caseworkers) from KAP; final reflection interviews with five strategic and delivery stakeholders from KAP and five strategic stakeholders from the Home Office; one final reflection interview with UNHCR (on the CEP series as a whole); a final reflection interview with a legal representative who provided legal services to pilot participants.
  • Research with key informants: The evaluation of pilot 1 included an online workshop with key informants, which took place in March 2021. To minimise the research burden on key informants, we also used this workshop as part of the RMAS evaluation.