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:
- Providing training and advice on the asylum support system to advice workers and other professionals
- Lobbying the Home Office to improve its asylum support provision for women
- Prioritising the cases of women at the asylum support tribunal
How can we help you and your organisation?
If you would like to refer a woman who has an appeal at the asylum support tribunal, please go to our referrals page.
If you have questions about supporting a woman 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.
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 guidance here. Please also see the ASAP factsheet on the guidance on our factsheets page.
The 2019 guidance has some key improvements:
- One of the key changes is the Home Office commitment to funding refuge spaces for asylum-seeking women. It was very unusual for the Home Office to agree to fund a refuge space and most women were ‘re-dispersed’ from abusive situations to other housing within the asylum support system, without any consideration of their need for support services.
- Of course, not all women will want (or will be able) to access a refuge space. It may not be the right choice for them or there may not be a space available. Crucially, the guidance commits the Home Office to listening to, and acting on, the views of women, and the advice workers working closely with them, about what constitutes a safe accommodation option for them, including having access to the relevant support services.
- The guidance has been expanded from the old version to include women who need to access the asylum support system from an abusive situation. It recognises the importance of a quick response which prioritises safety.
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 disseminates the information through targeted training webinars and information briefings on asylum support .
We are continuing to monitor the implementation of the guidance and provide feedback to the Home Office on this.
This Factsheet looks at the Home Office (HO) guidance dealing with how the HO, its housing contractors and Migrant Help (MH) should react when an asylum-seeker experiences domestic abuse (DA) in the UK and needs safe housing and support. Updated Aug 2020.
This factsheet provides information about applying for Section 4 support on the grounds of pregnancy or having recently given birth.
It also provides general information about access to maternity services for refused asylum seekers and the particular risks such women face when pregnant. Updated Oct 2018