Migrant Help to take over asylum advice services

Woman giving advice c. Jenny Wicks

Scottish Refugee Council has been told that it has not been awarded a new Home Office contract to provide advice services to asylum seekers in Scotland.

The charity has provided advice to newly arrived asylum seekers through the Scottish Induction Service (SIS) and to those going through the asylum system at our One Stop Service (OSS) for 13 years.

Earlier this year, we put in a consortium bid along with our Asylum Support Partners (ASP) across the UK – Refugee Council, Refugee Action, Northern Refugee Centre, North of England Refugee Centre and the Welsh Refugee Council - for this new contract due to commence in April 2014, which was a much reduced version of the service we currently provide.

Migrant Help

This week we learned that Migrant Help, a charity based in the South East of England who also have experience of delivering Home Office asylum advice services, has been awarded this UK-wide contract.

John Wilkes, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: “We would like to congratulate Migrant Help on winning the new Home Office contract to provide asylum services.

“We are, of course, very disappointed that our consortium bid was not selected and that we have not been able to persuade the Home Office that we offered the best overall solution.

We believe we have the ethos and experience to understand the full complexities of the Home Office asylum process and how this impacts on an advice service.

“However every effort will be made to make the transition as smooth as possible and we will continue to provide the existing range of one stop and asylum induction advice services until the end of March 2014.

“Scottish Refugee Council remains a viable and robust organisation with a wide range of other services and an increasingly diverse funding portfolio. 

“We already have some other services in place for people in the asylum process such as our Scottish Guardianship Service, which helps unaccompanied young people seeking asylum navigate often hostile system. In coming weeks we will also roll out a new advice service to provide more intensive support to families in the asylum process.

“We will continue to prioritise and develop other new services for people in the asylum process where we can find suitable funding and resources and build and link to our refugee integration services, which we re-launched with the help of a substantial Big Lottery Fund Scotland grant last year.

“Above all, we will keep people seeking asylum and refugees at the heart of what we do. We will continue to campaign and lobby for their rights to be upheld and to be treated with respect and dignity.”