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Research and policy

Research and policy analysis enables us to influence practice and policy changes that directly help those who are most vulnerable.

We spend lots of time with our clients which means we often have information and learning that perhaps others don’t. This knowledge is absolutely critical in addressing failures in the system. 

As part of the Helen Bamber Foundation Group we work together, creating a solid evidence base to drive improved practice. We use our unique insights to challenge policy where it is failing the most vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees.

We see the gaps and failures in the service and in the system and we are determined to make things safer and fairer for the most vulnerable in our society. 

How we help change policy and use it to protect those that have been persecuted:

Asylum Policy

We work to ensure that the asylum system is fair and works, providing timely and necessary protection to all those who need it.

The stated purpose of the UK asylum system is to ensure people who need protection from persecution and harm can live in safety. However, often due to system failures, the system leaves people in limbo waiting for years before receiving the protection they need. 

Often traumatised people do not know who to trust. Authorities on their journey may have been involved in their torture or trafficking and so they do not feel safe telling their history to strangers from the government. Very often they are also ashamed and find it hard to retell what has happened in detail. When interviewed the pressure to reveal everything all at once leads to, Survivors frequently becoming distressed and the information may be muddled. This then leads to claims being refused. About half of the Home Offices decisions are overturned on appeal, showing how often they get it wrong the first time.

Yet the New Immigration Plans announced in 2021 are set to make a bad situation worse, by increasing the detention of Survivors of trafficking and torture, creating more complex rules for already overburdened decision makers and by creating barriers to sharing evidence in court. 

Working alongside Survivors, we are seeking to help change policy at the Home Office and working with them to improve decision making and the asylum process as a whole.


If you are stateless, you do not have nationality of any country. You have no home and no sense of belonging and no country will look after you.  Leaving you at risk of exploitation and abuse. In short, it means you cannot live your life freely or safely. 

In 2011 Asylum Aid and UNHCR conducted ground-breaking research into the number, profile and situation of stateless people in the UK. We exposed a long-standing gap in immigration and asylum policy after consistent and strategic advocacy by our partnership the government introduced a statelessness determination procedure to help people in limbo.

However, there are still many flaws with this system - avoidable delays being one.  And we continue to work to increase access to this procedure through awareness raising and training of other legal representatives as well as improving its delivery by the Home Office, so that it is an accessible, fair and timely route to resolving statelessness.

Find out more about Statelessness

Gender Issues in the UK asylum system 

Often women are systematically mistreated and overlooked, gaps in a system which ignores their needs and experiences resulting in vulnerable women seeking protection are often put at further risk.

When women flee human rights abuses and seek protection in another country, they are dependent on an asylum process that may not take account of their experiences as women. Our research, conducted in partnership with NatCen Social Research, sought to address the evidence gap in terms of understanding the factors underpinning the overturn of women’s asylum refusals on appeal. 

Our findings, based on the experiences of women, inform our client led Protection Gap Campaign which ultimately will make the system better, safer and fairer for women. 

Here is some of our research on women and asylum appeals:

Through Her Eyes: research on women and asylum appeals

Nearly two thirds of initial asylum applications are refused each year by the Home Office. Most people then take their case to appeal. This research examines the experience of women going through the appeals process. 

Read the full report here

Sexual borders

This policy briefing addresses issues relating to asylum applications in the UK by persons who fear persecution relating to their sexual or gender identity or expression. 

Read the full report here

I feel like, as a woman, I am not welcome

This report comprehensively outlines the law, policy and practice in the UK regarding the refugee status determination process, the asylum procedure, reception conditions and detention conditions from a gender perspective. 

Read the full report here

Gender related asylum claims in Europe

This report consists of a comparative analysis of law, policies and practice relating to gender issues across nine EU Member States (Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) and recommendations towards integrating a gender perspective in European asylum systems. 

Read the full report here