Bulletin

09

Insights into Asylum Support Payments and client and staff mental health

Published
January 18, 2021
in
Data Hub
Data Hub Team
Posted by
Data Hub Team

Executive Summary

In our 9th Information and Data Hub survey, we looked at key themes including asylum support payments and client and staff mental health. This bulletin presents data collected from 34 organisations working with people in the immigration system across England, Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Client Needs and Barriers

The top three areas of client need:

  1. Housing (68%) remains the highest area of need with inadequate accommodation and homelessness or risk of homelessness reported as the main issues.
  2. Mental health (59%), including reports of deteriorating mental health and re-traumatisation, is up from 33% in Survey 8.
  3. Legal support (47%) remains the third  most common area of need, with  respondents reporting lack of access to good quality legal advice, support or representation on their immigration case, rights or status. 

The top three barriers to support for clients:

  1. Mental health issues including depression and anxiety (85%)
  2. Language and communication difficulties (82%)
  3. Lack of access to emotional and community support and closure of relied-upon services (79%)

Organisational Needs and Funding

The main organisational challenges reported:

  • Supporting clients to access remote services (59%)
  • Insufficient, inflexible or insecure funding (44%)
  • Insufficient management time/capacity for service adaptation (44%)

Specific organisational funding issues reported:

  • Lack of staff capacity to engage in fundraising (66%)
  • Funding gaps for key staff roles impacting project sustainability  (56%) 
  • Main grants/funding ending within the next 3 months (41%)

Asylum Support Payments

21 respondents answered questions about £8 weekly asylum support payments for clients in full board initial accommodation under Section 95:

  1. 43% of organisations are supporting clients who are eligible for but not receiving the £8 weekly allowance.
  2. 48% of organisations reported that some or all of their clients have either not received their payments or had them delayed, due to administrative issues on the part of accommodation and support contractors

Respondents shared the key impacts of denied or delayed cash support on clients, including inability to meet their own basic needs, reliance on charitable support, lack of autonomy, and negative impacts on diet and mental health. 

"The distribution process [for asylum support payments] was not designed to ensure that residents received the money to which they were entitled" 

Client Mental Health 

  • 97% of organisations surveyed have seen an increase in the mental health needs of clients in the last 3 months.
  • The top issues reported were anxiety (97%), depression (91%) and general stress (85%), trauma / PTSD (68%), suicidal ideation (56%) and Covid-related stress (56%).
  • The same top 3 mental health issues were reported by 22 out of 23 (96%) respondents working with clients housed in hotels and barracks. Covid-related stress was reported by 65% and Trauma/PTSD by 61%.
“Staff are hearing far more disclosures of stress, anxiety, self harm and suicidal ideation. Working online and over the phone is creating a greater sense of confidentiality that leads to these conversations, coupled with a lack of access to trusted support elsewhere.”

In order to address these needs:

  • 85% of organisations are making referrals to specialist mental health providers
  • 68% are developing new ways of providing social/community activities under COVID restrictions

The top challenges or barriers faced by organisations in responding to clients’ mental health needs are:

  • A lack of staff/organisational capacity to deal with the caseload or respond to complex cases and long waiting lists and delays for specialist mental health support, both reported by 68% of organisations;
  • Deteriorating mental health making it more difficult to reach clients, reported by 65% of organisations.

Staff Mental Health 

In relation to the mental health of staff of organisations:

  • Respondents told us that the main mental health issues facing staff in their organisation are fatigue (74%),  isolation (59%), overwork (59%) and general stress (56%). 
  • To address staff mental health and wellbeing issues, 19 organisations (56%) are offering peer support for frontline staff, 18 (55%) are using clinical supervision, and 17 (52%) are providing or organising training on staff wellbeing.

To better support and respond to staff mental health, organisations need:

  1. Increased capacity to reduce workload and create more time for reflection, away from screens, as well as increased time off.
  1. Specific budget or longer-term funding for mental health and wellbeing
  2. Training on mental health first aid and vicarious trauma
“The costs of supporting staff well are high. We want to be a good employer and have a happy, healthy workforce; achieving this on ever shrinking budgets that are consumed by the higher costs of supporting more and more people online is a huge balancing act.”

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To request the raw data, please email Helen Barley.

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