This new report from Trust for London and Paul Hamlyn Foundation examines how voluntary sector organisations have improved the capacity, efficiency and accessibility of immigration advice provision across the UK.
The report was commissioned to explore the range of methods not-for-profits of immigration and asylum advice are using in the wake of LASPO reforms to respond to the dearth of specialist immigration advice that is free at the point of access.
Watch the recent supporting webinar for the report where co-author Ceri Sutton shone a spotlight on some of the methods identified and we heard from others in the sector on how they're adapting to a changing environment, particularly with the added challenge of COVID-19.
This report was written before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020, but the research and recommendations are as relevant now as before, possibly more so. Over the past weeks, service providers have shown remarkable ingenuity and resilience as they adapt to the requirements of social distancing rules. Further adaptations may be needed: the pandemic could affect the way immigration advice services are delivered for some time. Some findings in this report will have direct relevance as providers identify and design new interventions (telephone and video-based advice for instance), whilst many of the methods identified – such as communities of practice, referral partnerships and training – can be taken online. The principles underpinning them, including strong partnerships, are even more crucial in these challenging times.
The research identifies nine methods to increase the capacity of the not-for-profit sector to meet immigration advice needs, either by introducing new provision, or by delivering existing advice in more efficient ways. These methods are grouped into three categories:
- Category one contains methods aimed primarily at creating new capacity in the system of immigration advice provision, including pro bono work by commercial law firms, capacity building and teams of people supporting specialist advisors.
- Category two includes methods aimed primarily at increasing the efficiency of how existing specialist immigration advice is provided. This includes in-house investment; remote advice and casework; outreach and referral partnerships, and other forms of joint working.
- Category three includes methods aimed primarily at changing the environment specialist advisors are working in; e.g. the provision of online information and strategic work, including strategic litigation and policy-influencing.
For each method, the research provides case studies and identifies which clients and circumstances the method is appropriate for; their benefits and limitations; what organisations need to consider if they want to translate or replicate the methods; and what challenges they might face.