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Evaluation of the Refugee and Migrant Advice Service

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Published: May 2021

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has commissioned us to evaluate the Refugee and Migrant Advice Service (RMAS). RMAS is the second alternative to detention being piloted in the UK under the Home Office’s Community Engagement Pilot (CEP) series.

Overview

The Refugee and Migrant Advice Service (RMAS) is funded by the Home Office. It was designed by the Home Office and King’s Arms Project, a charity addressing homelessness and its causes across a wide client group, including vulnerable migrants, based in Bedford. It is being delivered by King’s Arms Project.

RMAS aims to help people who do not have immigration status in the UK (and are therefore liable to be detained) to reach case resolution through appropriate decision-making while living in the community. The pilot provides community-based support including one-to-one case management, access to legal support, referrals to health services and pastoral support.

We also evaluated Action Access, the first pilot in the CEP series. Together, our independent evaluations of Action Access and RMAS will be crucial to identify lessons learned and to inform decision-making around further development and implementation of alternatives to detention in the UK.

Methodology

The evaluation engages two participant groups:

Pilot stakeholders:

  • Strategic stakeholders (UNHCR, Home Office staff, King’s Arms Project managers) took part in a logic model workshop during the inception phase, to explore planned inputs and activities, and intended outputs, outcomes and impacts.
  • Strategic stakeholders and service providers (e.g. support workers, legal advisors) will participate in in-depth interviews at two points in time: to explore ongoing delivery in 2021, and to offer final reflections on the pilot in 2022.

Pilot participants:

  • Three cohorts of RMAS participants will take part in in-depth interviews in 2021-22. This will allow us to understand participants’ experiences of the pilot, and how these change over time. Interviews will gather participants’ views on the value, relevance and connectedness of the support they receive through RMAS, including their recommendations for improvements to the service.

Our first output from the project is an inception report, introducing the RMAS pilot and our independent evaluation methodology.

Read the Evaluation Inception Report