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In a pilot programme funded by the GLA and managed by Homeless Link, seven grantees across London were awarded grants for projects that provided immigration advice for rough sleepers and those who are imminently homeless. 

The seven projects each explored a different model of integrating immigration advice with homelessness services. Now that the projects are nearing the end of the funded period Homeless Link have written a briefing paper of learning and recommendations. This has been created using interviews from grantees and their partner organisations at the mid point of the project. 

Key learning from the projects shows the benefits of homelessness organisations being OISC registered, at least to level 1, as well as the need to provide accommodation to non-UK nationals as they access immigration advice. Many organisations found that having a Link Worker or Immigration Navigator worked to help people access appointments and keep them engaged with advisors. However there is a greater need for accommodation for people to stay fully engaged with the process, which can often take long periods of time. 

Findings also highlighted the advantages of having homelessness services involved during the immigration process. This was proven to be even more important due to the unexpected complexity of cases and the long periods of time spent waiting for decisions to be returned. Whether providing in-house advice or working with external partners to refer and link up clients, the role of the homelessness sector in providing immigration advice to rough sleepers cannot be underestimated. 

The seven grantees and their partners include: 

  • Depaul UK partnering with Cardinal Hume Centre, New Horizon   
  • Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network partnering with Bench Outreach    
  • Micro Rainbow partnering with Wesley Gryk Solicitors  
  • NEWway Project partnering with Caritas Anchor House, Renewal Project   
  • South London Refugee Association partnering with Ace of Clubs, Thames Reach Croydon, Crisis Croydon, Glassdoor   
  • St Mungo’s partnering with Praxis   
  • Thames Reach partnering with Tower Hamlets Law Centre, Hammersmith and Fulham Law Centre 

The paper includes effective practice, challenges identified so far and recommendations for commissioners or homelessness organisations looking to deliver similar programmes. A full evaluation report of the fund will be released in August this year. If you have any queries or would like more information, please get in touch with us at fund@homelesslink.org.uk.