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.