THE 20TH BULLETIN OF THE INSIGHT HUB EXPLORES ORGANISATIONAL EXPERIENCES RELATED TO TWO KEY TOPICS: AFGHANISTAN RESPONSE: ONE YEAR ON, AND ASYLUM SUPPORT. THE SURVEY WAS COMPLETED BY 27 ORGANISATIONS ACROSS THE UK.
SECTION 1: AFGHANISTAN RESPONSE (ONE YEAR ON)
- The key needs from Afghans supported are emotional/ mental health support, basic material support, legal advice on immigration cases and support to apply for housing. Compared to the survey one year (Hub Bulletin 13) ago the need for legal advice has increased and the scale of the need for mental health support has increased. The data suggests that the ability of Afghans to access physical and mental health services has been very limited
- Over 60% of organisations are providing mental health support but few have the capacity or remit to provide legal advice and do their best to connect clients to organisations/ people that can help them
- 50% of organisations state that most Afghans in hotels have been in hotel accommodation for over 1 year, with none staying in hotels for less than3 months. The three main challenges for organisations in relation to meeting the needs of Afghans living in hotels are: increasing needs outweigh organisational capacity to respond, lack of legal advice provision and lack of support / cooperation from the Home Office/Private Contractors
- 67% of orgs say Afghan clients need legal support, yet few organisations are able to provide this directly (35%)
- There has been great variation in the support received by Afghans from their local authorities suggesting geographical policy differences and approaches.
- Organisations have highlighted that the cost-of-living crisis will affect their Afghan clients, with 25% saying it will have an extreme impact and the remaining75% reporting a high impact”
“They have been promised housing, schools for their children and jobs, but have been in hotels for over a year, and sometimes have been moved from one hotel to another, after having settled in a particular area”
Needs of Afghan communities
· The type of needs are mainly emotional/ mental health support, basic material support, legal advice on immigration cases and support to apply for housing
· The needs identified between this Survey (#20) and Survey 13 (when the most recent Afghanistan crisis started) are very similar with the exception of the need for legal advice which has become more prevalent and the scale of the need for mental health support is anecdotally reported as increasing with time.
· Around 50% of organisations say that the needs of Afghan communities have changed over the last year:
o There is an increased demand for support and advice to apply for family reunion.
o There is an increased need for trauma informed mental health support.
o There is a general sense that authorities are increasingly overlooking or forgetting the needs of Afghans.
Access to Services
· 95% of organisations report that Afghan communities have limited access to physical and mental health support
· The data suggests that it has been easier for Afghans to access education services with 50% of respondents giving a 4 or 5 rating.
· 86% of organisations report that their Afghan clients have been living in hotels for six months, and of these, 50% have been in hotel accommodation for over 1 year.
· 64% of organisations reported that the hotel accommodation was not safe, habitable, and fit for purpose
· The three main challenges for organisations in relation to meeting the needs of Afghans living in hotels are:
1. Increasing needs outweigh organisational capacity to respond
2. Lack of legal advice provision
3. Lack of support /cooperation from the Home Office/Private Contractors
“Our local authority has been fantastic but we have hotels just outside our area where the local authority support is poor or non-existent. The Home Office response has been poorly resourced.”
Legal status of Afghan clients
· 41% of organisations said that most of their Afghan clients have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) although only 6% said that all of the people they supported have ILR. 29% of organisations did not know whether their clients had ILR.
· Only 35% of organisations provide legal advice. 53% of organisations do not provide legal advice although an additional 12% could provide legal advice but do not have the capacity. This is despite one of the main needs of Afghans being legal support and highlights how difficult it is for organisations to meet needs themselves.
Key issues around legal advice:
- Paperwork is lengthy and processing time is very long
- Legal advice for people trying to access the schemes is very complicated and scarce.
- Access to legal advice in the UK very hard and complicated
“We are struggling to secure a legal aid rep for asylum claims and family reunion applications”
The majority of organisations had seen less than 50% of the people they support access paid work although 44% of organisations did not know.
IMPACT OF CURRENT CRISES
Organisations have highlighted that the cost of living crisis will affect their Afghan clients, with 25% saying it will have an extreme impact and the remaining 75% reporting a high impact.
FUNDING AND FURTHER RESOURCES
Most organisations (56%) reported having partial funding to support the needs of Afghan communities, with just one organisation reporting full funding.38% have no remaining funding to continue supporting Afghans.
SECTION 2: ASYLUM SUPPORT
Section done in collaboration with the Asylum Support Appeals Project -ASAP (asaproject.org) . They wanted to find out more about the availability of asylum support advice around the UK.
81% of organisations(17) are providing asylum support advice to their clients, whilst 19% are not providing this support.
The top five most common asylum support issues, ranked in order, raised by clients approaching organisations are:
1. Applying for asylum support
2. Needing access to emergency asylum support (s98)
3. A decision to refuse or stop support
4. Needing to follow up progress on an application for support
5. Needing to relocate