Principles
Too often people seeking safety in the UK are forced into poverty and crisis. Asylum Early Action aims to discover and implement services that help people in the asylum system before they reach crisis point. These are our principles:
We believe we can significantly reduce the crises experienced by people in the asylum system by reaching people both as early as possible in their asylum journey, and as early as possible when problems arise.

Why | Indicators | Inspiration
1. Early Action
To move away from firefighting crises, we are taking a step back to design services differently. We analyse current provision and make changes by prioritising prevention and de-escalation. We appreciate this takes time and there are barriers to overcome.

Why | Indicators | Inspiration
2. Belief in Long-Term Change
People within the asylum system and frontline workers understand how crises arise and cause harm. Together they have the best ideas for how to prevent them. We position their voices at the heart of service design.

Why | Indicators | Inspiration
3. Participatory Service Design
Too often interventions are done to/for people, not with people. The best services give people the confidence, skills and resilience so that people can take action for themselves.

Why | Indicators | Inspiration
4. Services that Empower
We try new approaches and accept the risk that not all will succeed. We evaluate what works to encourage innovation. We seek good outcomes, not predefined outputs.

Why | Indicators | Inspiration
5. Experimentation
We champion a shared vision for early action, created through partnerships at local level. We encourage innovation and learning and share what works.

Why | Indicators | Inspiration
6. Collaboration
Principle 1
Early Action
We believe we can significantly reduce the crises experienced by people in the asylum system by reaching people both as early as possible in their asylum journey, and as early as possible when problems arise.

Why
We are all too familiar with the crises people seeking asylum face. Homelessness, long-term poverty, protection needs going unrecognised, and being returned to face further persecution are all very real risks and most often, people are unaware and ill-prepared to deal with or avoid them. However, these crisis points can be predicted and, with the right approach, can be avoided or at least prepared for. We think that if we act a few steps sooner we can help people avoid falling into crisis in the first place and help them find sustainable routes to exit crisis promptly if things do go wrong.

Indicators
Reaching people before the crisis happens (prevention) or by developing models and processes to help people exit crisis (de-escalation) is prioritised. From the beginning of their asylum journey, people have the understanding and confidence needed to navigate the system, ability to explain and evidence their asylum claim; know and assert their rights, and know where they can go for help and support.

Examples & Inspiration
Asylum Guides is a national programme aimed at organisations working with asylum seekers. The toolkits enable volunteers to meet with clients and help them to navigate their asylum journey. Participating organisations can shape the programme based on their users' needs and local context.
Principle 2
Belief in Long-Term Change
To move away from firefighting crises, we are taking a step back to design services differently. We analyse current provision and make changes by prioritising prevention and de-escalation. We appreciate this takes time and there are barriers to overcome.

Why
Frontline organisations are often overwhelmed providing crisis-led support for people who are homeless or have had their asylum claim refused, struggling to address issues that have become extremely complicated and difficult to unpick. It is hard to pull back from these models of working as the demand is so great and the issues so urgent. We need a way to help services move away from reacting to crisis, to rebalance efforts and investment towards prevention and de-escalation. We know there are many significant barriers; including the relentless funding cycle, competing funding objectives and sometimes internal resistance to change; that need to be overcome to create the space for reflection and analysis needed to make this shift.

Indicators
Service development is informed by in-depth analyses of crises people experience at different stages of their asylum journey, alongside regular reviews and evaluation. Permission is granted (at all levels) to think creatively, explore new ideas and go against the flow. Organisations share strategies on building capacity and reallocating resources, potentially over a long period, to see the benefits of early action realised.

Examples & Inspiration
Sue Bent, Director of Central England Law Centre has inspired us. In this interview she talks about going against the grain and building innovative projects to tackle familiar problems.
Principle 3
Participatory Service Design
People within the asylum system and frontline workers understand how crises arise and cause harm. Together they have the best ideas for how to prevent them. We position their voices at the heart of service design.

Why
To prevent problems from occurring or stop problems from escalating, we need to understand the individual's experience of the problem, what could have been done differently and involve them in finding solutions.

Indicators
The voices of people with experience of the asylum process are at the centre of the service. Their understanding of the problems affecting them and possible solutions are listened to and included in service design and improvement.

Examples & Inspiration
We think Freedom from Torture's 'Service User Group' approach is gold standard. Find out in our recent interview with Jonathan Kazembe, Service-User Engagement Champion at Freedom from Torture.
Principle 4
Services that Empower
Too often interventions are done to/for people, not with people. The best services build confidence, skills and resilience so people can take action for themselves.

Why
The asylum process is dehumanising and disempowering. Often, even if a positive decision is granted, the process and crisis encountered along the way, cause harm with long-term effects. Services can counteract disempowerment by discovering people's strengths, aspirations and voice; enabling people to understand their individual circumstances, how to engage with the system effectively and take action for themselves.

Indicators
Organisations recognise the resourcefulness and capability of individuals and communities. By exploring ways of making people aware of their rights, building legal capability and confidence, people going through the asylum process are better able to navigate complex systems, use their voice, be more in control of their own lives and benefit from opportunities, be involved in finding solutions to their problems and feel enabled to avoid or exit crisis.

Examples & Inspiration
With a central aim of empowering refugee and asylum seeking women, we'd encourage you to check out Women for Refugee Women's work.
Principle 5
Experimentation
We try new approaches and accept the risk that not all will succeed. We evaluate what works to encourage innovation. We seek good outcomes, not predefined outputs.

Why
Often borne out of necessity, organisations supporting refugees and asylum seekers have had to be good at adapting to changing needs and contexts. Historically however, we have not been as adept at measuring the impact of our approaches. To embed early action within service delivery may mean shifting our perspective, looking at a problem in new way and challenging established ways of working. To find out what works and make the most valuable impact we can, we will need to test new approaches, develop robust tools for measuring impact and ultimately, keep learning.

Indicators
Organisations adopt a cycle of trialling, evaluating and adapting to establish effective early action approaches, relevant and appropriate to the needs of their users and local context. They have the tools to evidence impact and confidence to use their learning to make bold decisions to invest in early action.

Examples & Inspiration
We are keen to hear about the learning of Hope Project's current evaluation where they are following the progression of 150 of their clients to track outcomes, and in turn, inform their approach.

Principle 6
Collaboration - Sharing Best Practice
We champion a shared vision for early action, created through partnerships at local level. We encourage innovation and learning and share what works.

Why
We know there is unequal provision of services for people seeking asylum. The extent to which people are able to avoid or exit crisis shouldn't be based on them happening upon quality support. By working in partnership, we can reach people at the earliest point possible and grasp the opportunity to prevent crisis escalating. By learning together and from one another, we can share effective approaches to preventing and de-escalating crisis, and increase early action in asylum service delivery.

Indicators
Organisations work within their local contexts to proactively forge early action alliances that support people in avoiding or exiting crisis. Successes and learning are shared to enable the development of early action within services for people seeking asylum.

Examples & Inspiration
We think the Manchester Homelessness Partnership is a great example of collaboration between people with experience of homelessness and the statutory, private, and third sectors - harnessing the resources of an entire community to respond to homelessness.

Support the Asylum Early Action movement by becoming a signatory of these principles.