Introducing: Asylum Support Appeals Project

Alice Webb, Women’s Legal Advisor, Asylum Support Appeals Project

The Women’s Project at the Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) exists to try and get a fairer deal for women seeking asylum in the UK. Our focus is on asylum support. This is the accommodation and financial support that the Home Office is under a duty to provide to destitute asylum seekers in this country. It’s a ‘bare bones’ support system with accommodation being offered around the UK on a no-choice basis and weekly financial support of around £36 per week.

Women seeking asylum in the UK are at often at risk of domestic violence and sexual exploitation, particularly if they are unable to support themselves and their children. Many women have a limited ability to access advice and support services, often due to cultural expectations, lack of self-confidence, lack of English language skills and the demands of child care. Mental and physical health problems also affect a large proportion of women that we work with. Some women are experiencing particularly tough pregnancies due to the stresses and strains they are enduring. They may be sofa surfing and living a very hand to mouth existence. They may have become pregnant unexpectedly and/or have been left by a partner after becoming pregnant. Some of these women may be able to qualify for support from the Home Office which, although minimal, may offer a chance of some sort of stability and independence for a woman.

Our aim is to defend the legal rights of asylum seeking women to basic support and to increase knowledge about these rights among people working with women. We do this through:

  • Providing free legal representation for women who are appealing against Home Office decisions to refuse or stop their support
  • Providing free training on the support system for groups (including midwives) around the UK
  • Providing expert advice on the support system to professionals  around the UK through our advice line: 020 3716 0283, Mon, Weds, Fri, 2-4pm
  • Lobbying the Home Office to improve the support system for women

Our policy work in recent years has included working with Maternity Action to push for earlier access to support for refused asylum seekers who are pregnant. As part of this work we have produced a joint briefing specifically aimed at midwives. Currently, we are working with voluntary sector partners to improve the way that the asylum support department of the Home Office responds to situations where a woman is experiencing, or is at risk of, domestic violence.

How can we help you?

  • If you are struggling to know how to help a woman who has claimed asylum and has no-where to live and no way to support herself, please call our helpline for advice. Tel: 020 3716 0283, Mon, Weds, Fri, 2-4pm
  • If you think that you and your team would benefit from a free, training session on the rights of asylum seekers to support, please contact our Women’s Legal Advisor (Alice Webb) to discuss how we could set this up: [email protected] or 020 3716 0284 ext  202
  • If you are working with a woman who has been refused support or is facing having her support stopped, please contact us for advice and, if she is coming to an appeal, possible legal representation: [email protected] or 020 3716 0284