Women’s ProjectAddressing the asylum support needs of vulnerable female asylum seekers


Why do we have a women’s project at ASAP?

The Women’s Project was set up in response to the particular difficulties that women asylum seekers, who are in need of financial support and accommodation, face while in the UK. In common with men, they often face issues of poor mental and physical health. For women, however, this is exacerbated by:

Increased risks of domestic violence and sexual exploitation if they are unable to support themselves and their children.
A more limited ability to access advice and support services, often through cultural expectations, lack of self-confidence, lack of English language skills and the demands of child care.

What do we do?

We work to reduce destitution and its associated risks among women asylum seekers. We do this by:

Prioritising the cases of women at the asylum support tribunal
Providing training to women’s organisations on the asylum support system
Providing factsheets and briefings on asylum support issues that are particularly relevant to women
Lobbying the Home Office to improve its asylum support provision for women

How can we help you and your organisation?

Referrals

If you would like to refer a female client who has an appeal at the asylum support tribunal, please click here.
If you have questions about supporting a female asylum seeker or refused asylum seeker around asylum support, please ring our Advice Line on:

T: 020 3716 0283 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2-4pm.  

Specialist training and advice

Our women’s legal advisor is able to offer free, bespoke training around the UK on the asylum support system. She has a particular remit to offer free training to women’s organisations (particularly domestic violence services) and to other services which predominantly support women. This includes health professionals such as midwives and health visitors. 

For more information about how the asylum support system impacts on women, have a look at our powerful video (see below) about one of our clients:

Our work on domestic abuse: 

Asylum-seeking women and their children can face huge difficulties in trying to access safe accommodation and appropriate support services when trying to leave an abusive situation. For lots of women it’s incredibly difficult to disclose this information and requires great courage to do so.  It’s critical that, when they make a decision to leave the situation, they receive the support they need and can access services that help them to stay safe and recover from their experiences. After many years of advocacy from ASAP's women's project and the Refugee Council,  the Home Office published new improved guidance in 2019 on how it should respond when someone seeking asylum is experiencing domestic abuse and needs safe accommodation and support from the Home Office. It replaces previous guidance. It is relevant to all asylum-seeking survivors of domestic abuse in the UK.  You can find the new guidance here. Please also see the ASAP factsheet on the guidance on our factsheets page. 

The 2019 guidance has some key improvements: 

The women’s project at ASAP and the Refugee Council produced a report (Women seeking asylum: safe from harm in the UK?) in 2018 that looked at women’s safety in the asylum support system. We’re very pleased to see the Home Office acting on recommendations that came out of that report.

In order to ensure that the right people know about the guidance, ASAP has been disseminating information through training webinars on asylum support for survivors of domestic abuse. Additonally, we provide briefing sessions on the guidance to specialist VAWG organisations and Local Authorities who work with asylum-seeking women. 

We are continuing to monitor the implementation of the guidance and provide feedback to the Home Office on this. 

Women seeking asylum: safe from violence in the UK? 

ASAP and the Refugee Council have produced a joint research report: 

Women seeking asylum: safe from violence in the UK?

This is a ground-breaking piece of research which focuses specifically on how the Home Office system of financial support and accommodation for women (the asylum support system) reacts to women seeking asylum who are experiencing, or at risk of, domestic violence and other forms of gender based violence. It builds on policy work that ASAP and the Refugee Council have been jointly working on for many years. 

It draws, primarily, from survey results from specialist asylum support advisors across the UK. The report will help ASAP and the Refugee Council to continue pushing for an asylum support response that meets women's safety needs in the UK. 

 

We are incredibly grateful to Comic Relief for their funding and support of our Women's project.


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