Strengthening local asylum ecosystems

February 13, 2024
Explore, Adapt, Renew
Lora Evans
Posted by
Lora Evans

We know that organisations do not operate in a vacuum, they need to work together, and with refugees, migrants and people seeking asylum, to achieve change and improve outcomes. As part of our programme Explore Adapt Renew , seven lead organisations are working to catalyse and facilitate collective action and system change in their local ecosystems. there’s a focus on sharing learning of what works and also the solutions that are developed and tested so they can be scaled or reused by other local areas.

What is a local asylum ecosystem?

When we talk about local asylum ecosystems, we mean everyone involved in shaping the experiences, systems and structures of people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants in a local area or region, and the relationships and interdependence between these actors.

The charitable organisations, local community groups, citizen peers, statutory stakeholders, contracted companies, elected representatives and crucially those with lived experience of forced migration and of navigating the complex systems and structures in place.

The ambition is to build local asylum ecosystems that are collaborative, resilient and sustainable.

What are the 7 areas doing to strengthen their ecosystems?

Each lead partner is collaborating with at least 6 of their local partner organisations. They are also committed to creating meaningful ways for people with lived experience to play a central role in influencing change.

Together they will develop a shared response to a key challenge they’ve identified that will help improve outcomes for refugees and asylum seekers.

Examples of what local areas are working on

Each local area has defined and is now working on solving their ‘how might we?’ question


How might we create a strategic forum for Newcastle so we can work in a proactive way to develop more coordinated responses?


How might we develop a service mapping resource so that refugees and asylum seekers can access the support they need, when they need it?’


How might we build local protective partnerships to address the lack of safety and security experienced by people housed in hotels, hostels and other temporary accommodation with multiple occupancy?


How might we develop better provision and pathways, so that people seeking asylum and refugees in Leeds, can access legal advice in a timely manner?


How might we develop a model for providing good support to those in contingency hotels (especially in areas with little Initial Accommodation experience/limited community resources) which is sufficiently flexible to take into account planned full dispersal model?


How might we support the adoption of Early Action Principles and provision of preventative services across the local area / region?


How might we ensure joined up, sustainable provision that meets the needs of asylum seekers in hotels across the local area?

Underpinning this work are some key approaches:


“not just a word […] not just a concept, it is a meeting of minds coming, together to find a shared solution. In practice, it involves people who use services being consulted, included and working together from the start to the end of any project that affects them.” (Think Local, Act Personal Advisory Group)

Early Action

“an approach to designing and delivering services and systems that help people before they reach crisis” (Asylum Early Action)

Human Centred Design

“an approach for developing interactive systems with the objective of making systems user-friendly and useful. To achieve its aim, it focuses on users, their needs and expectations, by considering the human factor, alongside knowledge and usability methods”. (IONOS)

How will we share what we develop and learn?

We will write regular blogs about the work in progress in each local area.

Those involved in this work meet quarterly to update each other, share successes, challenges and strategies.

These are sessions are for inspiration, motivation and info sharing. Often the info about how other areas are approaching a situation or challenge is taken back to inspire or call for similar action.

As the ecosystem projects progress, we will share the tools, resources, frameworks or strategies developed — in the hope that others will reuse them or scale the response.

How can you get involved?

We know that amazing people are working really hard on similar challenges across the UK.

This work is often hard, long-term, unseen and unfunded.

We think that the more we connect and share, the stronger our responses will be and the more we can achieve.

If you would like to join our network of Ecosystem Coordinators — please get in touch! Email PascaleG@Refugee-Action.org.uk

Also get in touch if any of the challenges identified by the 7 areas strike a chord with what you’re doing and you’d like to connect with the organisations working on it.

The EAR Lead organisations are: PAFRAS, SDCAS, Refugee Women Connect, Action Foundation, Bristol Refugee Rights, Nottingham Refugee Forum and Brushstrokes.

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