Training and Research

The North of England Refugee Service is committed to remaining up to date and informed on all refugee and immigration issues. Part of NERS’ work involves commissioning and participating in a wide range of research initiatives. Here you will find all recent NERS’ research work as well as other asylum seeker/refugee research related work:

Peers Slam Government for Failing Lone Children: House of Lords Report Children in crisis: unaccompanied migrant children in the EU

Resources for awareness talks City of Sancturary

Asylum Support Appeals Project Duty Scheme

Tackling Female Genital Mutilation in the UK The Royal College of Midwives 01/11/2013

The Big Squeeze : The Impact of Welfare Reform in Newcastle December 2013 -Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service

Womens Asylum Charter 5 Years on - Innovative and influential, the Charter of Rights of Women Seeking Asylum brings together a wide range of charities which work in partnership to promote the rights of women seeking asylum.

The Impact of Welfare Reform in the North East - A research report for the Association of North East Councils by the Universities of Durham (Institute for local Governance), Northumbria and Teeside and the North East refion of Citizens; September 2013

Medical Justice - Expecting Change: the case for ending the imigration detention of Pregnant Women - 11/06/13

Written out of the Picture the role of local services in tackling child poverty amongst asylum seekers and refugees: Regional Refugee Forum; North East Child Poverty Commission.

Immigration Legal Advice Centre Report Sarah Rogers "The effect of Legal Aid cuts on people seeking asylum" April 2013

Food for Thought -  a report on Foodbanks in Newcastle in PDf form. November 2012

North East Stratigic Migration Partnership Legal Aid Changes Report September 2011:

Aspen futures: A research report on the cultural inequality of women & its solutions. March 2010

Supported by the Aspen Culture Staff team,  eleven volunteer female researchers from different backgrounds worked together to find creative ways to investigate cultural barriers and women’s perspectives on culture. The broad aim of the research, conducted using a comprehensive range of qualitative methods, was to work with and engage migrant and refugee women across the region to investigate their evolving engagement with and understanding of local culture, in addition to identifying ways in which their new cultures can interact and fuse with other cultures in the north East and wider United Kingdom.

Click here to view or download the full research report:  Aspen Futures Report or Aspen Futures (Single pages) Report

By Sara Ganassin and Martyn Hudson, The Aspen Culture Project at The North of England Refugee Service. Funded by CLG from the Tackling Race Inequalities Fund.

 A Transnational Network: Hearing the Voices of Refugees in Policy & Practice in the European Union’ Sunderland for the European Commission. January 2001


‘Investigating RCO’s in the North East dispersal region and community based integration initiatives’ Commissioned by IRSS Home Office. July 2001

‘Enabling ‘grass roots’ community groups to support the integration of Refugees’ Presentation to the National Refugee Integration Forum, January 2002


‘Occasional Paper No.05 March 2002: Improving the Health of Asylum Seekers: an Overview’Participation in research commissioned by Northern and Yorkshire Public Health Observatory.


‘Refugee Housing Project North East: Refugee aspirations on future housing needs in the North East of England’ For Banks of the Wear Community Projects. June 2002.


Accessing Personal Medical Services (PMS) Pilot. Commissioned by Newcastle Primary Health Care Trust.  May 2002


Asylum Seeker views of medical services in Sunderland For Sunderland Health Authority 1999/2000


Health of asylum seekers worsen whilst in the UK

A new report by the British Medical Association states that the health of asylum seekers may actually get worse after entry to the UK. ‘Asylum seekers: meeting their healthcare needs’ comes from the BMA’s Board of Science and Education and calls on the Government to allocate sufficient funding and implement effective policies to ensure that the health of this minority group does not deteriorate in the UK. The report claims that from the point of entry to the UK not enough is being done to safeguard the health of asylum seekers. Basic medical testing does not routinely take place which means tuberculosis (TB) often goes undiagnosed, those suffering from psychological affects of torture are not always referred to specialist centres and unaccompanied children are not given appropriate vaccinations and immunisations.

There are also a number of barriers to healthcare for asylum seekers. For example, insufficient translation services, in particular in the area of mental health, lack of continuity of care and essential documentation, for example of exemption for charges forms, are only available in English and Welsh.

The report recommends:

  • Dispersal policy should be effectively managed so asylum seekers receive adequate accommodation and are not moved from place to place
  • Funding for asylum seekers should not come from existing budgets for GP’s, as this will have a knock on effect on the healthcare provision of the resident population. New money should be made available to GP’s
  • Children should be educated within the local community to improve integration and also their general wellbeing
  • Asylum seekers should not generally be held in detention, especially families and children as in many instances this can remind torture victims of their experiences and compound their psychological torment

To see the complete report, please click on the link below:

NERS – Move On report

NERS, Banks of the Wear and a host of other organizations have just published a report on the availability of Move On housing for refugees in the North East. The key results of the report are:

  • That approximately 43% of respondents stated that they would definitely, and a further 38% would possibly, like to remain living in the North East region when considering their move on from NASS contracted dispersal accommodation.
  • That access to training and employment, access to housing and support services and opportunities for social inclusion and community support were the “top three” critical factors in influencing whether respondents decided to remain in the Region.
  • That if they were to choose to live in another part of the UK, the most popular location of choice – for 48% of respondents – would be London.
  • That respondent’s preferred areas for move on housing in the North East were areas other than those into which they had been dispersed – principally for reasons of personal safety and the avoidance of racial harassment.
  • That respondent’s preferred type of move on housing was self contained, not shared homes, in secure neighbourhoods. With the majority expressing an interest in buying their own home.
  • That 50% of black and 30% of white respondents had been the victims of racially motivated crime and harassment while in the region – most on several occasions. Comparatively few – under 5% – reported that they had been the victims of other crime.
  • That the most quoted continuing support needs were in relation to housing and employment and training in that order. Also,that respondents saw refugee based organisations rather than “mainstream” providers as their preferred source of such support.
  • The report also identified positive and negative “indicators” in respect of second stage / move-on housing needs, preferences and aspirations. These are factors to be taken into account in any future provision planning.
  • The report concludes that the key elements to be considered in the provision of move-on accommodation are as follows;
  • Opportunities for belonging – feelings of security, community and support – are critical to successful integration and the retention of refugees in the North East region.

To read the complete report, click here (right click and select ‘save target as..’).

Voluntary Assisted Returns Programme (VARP) – An evaluation

The Home Office has recently released a report evaluating the Voluntary Assisted Returns Programme (VARP) which has been in operation since 1999. The programme run by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and supported by Refugee Action assists asylum seekers or people with exceptional leave to remain who wish to return to their country of origin.

The key findings of the report are:

  • The growth in number of asylum seekers using this service was slow but steady, with 1,033 people using the service between September 2000- August 2001
  • Albanians constituted the largest group of returnees. Kosovans and Iranians are the only other nationalities returning in significant numbers, though the programme has returned people to over 40 countries
  • The 3 organisations (IOM, Refugee Action and IND) were operating a well run service
  • VARP provided significant cost-savings for IND (Immigration Nationality Directorate)
  • Asylum seekers were provided with a dignified, timely departure by VARP

To read the full report click on the following link:

A Case for Change How Young Refugee Children in England Are Missing Out (June 2002)

This report is the work of the Children’s society, the Refugee Council and Save the Children. The aim of the project was to find out where children and young people live, in what type of accommodation, and to record the difficulties they encounter in accessing services such as education and social services.

The key findings of the report are:

  • Of the children participating in the report – 62 were in some form of education, whilst 56 were not in education at all
  • The children and young people were in a variety of educational placements
  • 27 were in further education college, 19 in mainstream schools, 8 attended ESOL classes, 8 enrolled in ‘alternative classes’ in community centres dealing specifically with asylum issues

A significant number of children and young people were not in education at all. These were categorized as:

  • 21 waiting for a school or college place
  • 8 were living in detention and unable to apply for a place
  • 7 were attending training schemes
  • 4 were employed
  • 16 did not give any information

A key problem was the length of time refugee children and young people had to wait for an appropriate place in school or college:

  • 25 had experienced delays more than 20 days. Of those still waiting, there were reports of children waiting six months or more
  • Young people who wanted to go to college also had to wait and many were on part-time courses. They would prefer to be studying for more hours
  • Those in alternative education were happy to be getting some time to study, but often the only option offered was to study part-time and separately from local young people, whom they would like to integrate

To read the complete report, please click on the following link: