Insights into Access to Legal Advice and Staff Wellbeing

August 22, 2022
Data Hub
Data Hub Team
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Data Hub Team


Section 1: Access to Legal Advice

  • 62% of surveyed organisations (23) provide legal advice to the people they support, mostly in the form of legal information and one off advice sessions. Of the 38% that do not provide legal advice, most refer their clients on to specialised support. 
  • The top reported issues that people need legal advice for are asylum applications; immigration and asylum appeals and advice on rights and options
“Legal Aid Solicitors are increasingly hard to find and we spend more time fruitlessly searching. We rarely get new claims, but more complex appeals and tribunal cases are frequent. Even when we prepare statements we still can’t get Legal Aid solicitors.”

Organisations provide legal advice to a wide range of client groups, including:

  1. People seeking asylum living in Home office  accommodation / asylum hotels (72%)
  2. People who have been refused asylum (72%)
  3. Undocumented migrant communities (72%)
  4. EU nationals and their family members (64%)

68% of organisations use a hybrid mix of online and in person to deliver legal advice


76% of organisations have seen a moderate or significant increase in their caseload in the last two years. No organisations have seen a decrease in their caseload. The reasons for increases in the legal advice caseload include:

  1. Delays in Home Office decision making (89%)
  2. Increase in volume of clients and client needs due to ongoing crisis situations (e.g. Covid, Afghanistan, Ukraine) (79%
  3. New / increased dispersal to local area (58%) and reduced capacity of local legal services (58%)

86% of organisations report that waiting lists to access immigration advice have become longer

 One organisation also highlighted the impact of increasing needs on the legal advisors:

“The immigration adviser needs not just to know immigration law, they need increased resilience to the impact of the work on their own emotional wellbeing; the need to be continually alert to the chaos that is the Home Office decision-making process; changes of policy; regulation; and interpretation of these. The hostile environment is being embedded from the Cabinet down to the street.”

Specific needs: LGBTQ+ people

To mark national pride month, we explored the specific experience of organisations supporting LGBTQ people to access legal advice.

  • 59% of organisations have supported LGBTQ+ people to access legal advice and support 
  • There is great apprehension amongst people to reveal their status even if it would help their legal case with many not realising that this is grounds for international protection.

Links to specific crises

Afghan crisis: 

  • 23% of organisations report that the Afghan arrivals they have supported have received full legal advice, with 69% accessing partial advice, and 8% no advice.

Ukraine crisis:

  • 46% of organisations report that the Ukrainian arrivals they have supported have received full legal advice, with 38% accessing partial advice, and 15% no advice.

Asylum hotels: 

14 organisations are supporting clients in asylum hotels, with 8 providing direct legal advice:

  • Key issues include lack of capacity to provide prolonged support, long waiting times for substantive interviews and lack of funding to support costs for clients to attend appointments.
  • Tools used to support people in hotels including Asylum guides, the Right to Remain Toolkit, workshops for general dispersal guidance, 1:1 appointments and onward referrals.

Rwanda offshoring:

  • 31% of organisations reported that the announcement of Rwanda offshoring has impacted the number of clients seeking support. 

EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS):

  • 11 organisations are providing support for legal advice to EU nationals regarding EU Settlement Scheme. 
  • Currently the biggest challenge is a relatively rapid increase of refusals and having to support users to understand the grounds, and support AR/appeal, or referring for full appeal representations

Anti-Refugee Law:

  • 62% of organisations are doing or planning work to address the impact of the Anti-Refugee (Nationality and Borders) bill on clients
“Our lawyers are learning all the new laws so that they can best represent people affected by the provisions in the Act. We are building links with hotels and other front-line providers so that we can identify those who are affected.”

Section 2: Staff Wellbeing

Organisations reported their current status of staff wellbeing (Delphis scale):

  • In crisis (0%)
  • Struggling (7%)
  • Surviving (76%)
  • Thriving (17%)
  • Excelling (0%)

The top 3 wellbeing issues currently being experienced by staff include:

  1. Overwork
  2. Financial worries / cost of living crisis
  3. Stress and anxiety

Organisations have put in place a range of measures to address staff wellbeing issues, including reducing their caseload, hiring new staff, peer support for frontline staff and providing training.

76% of organisations would like to see funding opportunities for wellbeing work, and 79% would like to participate in workshops focusing on wellbeing and care. Organisations prioritised topics including boundaries and communication, how to build care into internal processes and practical tools for self-care and resilience.

 “We put workload and wellbeing on the list of standing items for all line management meetings so that these are always asked about and challenges can be addressed early”

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To request the raw data, please email Helen Barley.

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