Asylum Aid Annual Report 2021


2021 was a year of consolidation for the Asylum Aid team following its re-establishment as a charity in its own right as part of the Helen Bamber Foundation group in August 2020. The focus of the charity’s work remained on providing expert legal representation in the most complex cases going through the asylum and trafficking systems. The ongoing public health crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic continued to pose challenges both for the delivery of our services and for our clients, where ongoing delays in decision-making by the Home Office resulted in increased vulnerability to exploitation, abuse and re-trafficking.

At the same time the protection of refugees in the UK is under threat at a level unprecedented in Asylum Aid’s 38-year history. The proposals in this Government’s Nationality and Borders Act have been widely condemned and, when implemented in full, will do serious damage to refugee rights. The crises in Ukraine and Afghanistan demonstrate the relevance of the commitments that governments made 70 years ago to protect refugees. Yet, in the face of the reality of watching more than five million refugees (at the time of writing) from Ukraine struggle to reach shelter, this Government has driven through punitive legislation that will make it harder for those fleeing war, persecution and trafficking to attain safety. In addition, the Government’s broader constitutional change programme threatens access to justice and the effective protection of human rights.

We have the privilege of leading an organisation that is widely respected for its history of securing protection from persecution for those who need it, at a time when the need for our work is escalating. This is an exciting time of growth and development. We do not underestimate the challenges ahead but know that we face the future with determination and the support of an expert and committed team.

That team has worked extremely hard over the last 20 months to get Asylum Aid to where it now is. We want to pay particular tribute to Ian Kane, who left us in December 2021. As Legal Services Manager, Ian steered the transition from Consonant to Asylum Aid’s new home in the Helen Bamber Foundation Group. He has built an extraordinary team with a palpable sense of pride in its achievements to date and that is excited about what the future holds. He has achieved that in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis.

The ongoing encouragement from all of our supporters and partners has also been central to our ability to re-establish Asylum Aid as a small but important part of the work we do to enable survivors to get protection from persecution. Now, it just remains for us to thank you all for the extra mile you have walked to keep this fantastic organisation going and to ensure we continue to deliver life-changing outcomes.

Kerry Smith, CEO Asylum Aid & Alison Pickup, Director of Asylum Aid