Brushstrokes: Experiments
Problem
We are based in Sandwell, where there are high numbers of dispersed asylum seekers, but poor access to legal advice.

Clients tell us that they do not understand the asylum process and they do not feel confident or prepared to navigate this complex system. Consequently, many people are left feeling confused and disempowered, without the agency to advocate for themselves and get the help they need.
Experiment 1
We have increased our contact with people new to the area; visiting 73 properties where people seeking asylum are accommodated since October 2018.

Our outreach service enables us to reach groups affected by health issues, lack of childcare and geographical distance. It allows our staff and volunteer team to engage with people much earlier on in their asylum journey, identifying issues early and preventing them from getting worse.
Impact
Outreach visits have resulted in additional contact for advice and information on the asylum process and helped address immediate issues, which may have led to crisis down the line, such as a significant number of new contacts not having legal representation for their asylum claim.
Experiment 2
After taking part in the Asylum Guides pilot, we have embedded the model within our service. Asylum Guides is a legal education programme that supports people to understand the asylum system and feel more confident throughout their asylum journey. Since July 2018, 18 Asylum Guides have been matched with clients.
Impact
When asked about the service, 100% of clients would recommend the programme to their friends. While most are still waiting for a decision, two clients supported by a Guide have received a positive decision on their asylum claim. One of the clients was introduced to a Guide early on in their arrival into Sandwell, they received support to find a solicitor, understand the legal context of their asylum claim, their entitlements and what happens after a decision is made. In their final meeting, the client inquired about training to become an Asylum Guide himself, so he too could help others. Several participants in Asylum Guides have fed back how the process of being guided has helped them prepare and feel more confident when they had their interview with the Home Office.
Experiment 3
We have reviewed and updated our initial assessment procedures following findings from outreach sessions and focus groups with our clients. We now proactively collect much more information to guide the support we provide, including: length of time since arrival, whether legal representation has been secured and healthcare accessed.
Impact
To be seen
I hope many people can get the same help in the future. Many people misunderstand the process, so it would be very good for them to have the same support. Thank you again. The project should be announced publicly for more people to access.
Brushstrokes Service User, Asylum Guides clients