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  • Background: Alternatives to Detention

    In 2017-2018, UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency worked closely with the UK government to establish a Home Office-UNHCR working group on piloting alternatives to detention in the UK. This led to the Community Engagement Pilot series, which aims to provide more efficient, humane and cost-effective case resolution for migrants and asylum seekers, by encouraging voluntary engagement with the immigration system.

    Pilot 1: Action Access

    Action Access provides housing, support and access to legal and health services for women who would ordinarily be detained in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. It aims to improve engagement with the immigration system by supporting women to resolve their immigration status while living in the community. This pilot will end on 31 March 2021, with a final evaluation report to be published in summer 2021.

    Pilot 2: Refugee and Migrant Advice Service

    The Refugee and Migrant Advice Service provides support for people who do not have immigration status in the UK (and remain liable to be detained) to improve engagement with the immigration system and resolve their case while living in the community. The service uses a case-management based approach, providing people a support worker and access to legal advice. As well as facilitating legal access, support workers help participants with access to activities and services, such as healthcare and development opportunities. This pilot is currently ongoing, with a final evaluation report to be published in September 2022.

  • About the independent evaluation

    NatCen Social Research is the UK’s leading independent social research agency. We are not-for profit and focused entirely on delivering high quality social research that can improve people’s lives. Our clients span central government, the third sector, universities and local government. We have a strong track record in delivering surveys, qualitative research, secondary analysis and evaluation.

    NatCen was commissioned by the UNHCR to evaluate the Action Access and Refugee and Migrant Advice Service pilots. The evaluation approach combines qualitative research with pilot participants and delivery and strategic stakeholders with analysis of management information and costs data. The evaluation of Action Access is due to be completed in spring 2021, while the evaluation of Refugee and Migrant Advice Service is just starting and will conclude in 2022.

  • About the workshop

    NatCen will be hosting an online workshop on Thursday 18 March (1-3pm) to share emerging findings from our evaluation of the Community Engagement Pilot series.

    For people working on or interested in asylum and immigration, this workshop is an opportunity to:

    - Learn about the Community Engagement Pilot Series from UNHCR.

    - Hear from Action Foundation and King’s Arms Project about the delivery of two pilot programmes: Action Access and the Refugee Migrant Advice Service.

    - Engage with emerging findings from NatCen’s evaluation of Action Access.

    - Share your views on the wider implications of these findings for asylum and migration management in the UK.

    Please note that attendance is by invitation only. 

    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the NatCen research team via or on 0131 240 0212.