‘It just rings and rings’: Home Office helpline for asylum seekers rated inadequate

At our recent QARN meeting, it was agreed that we would look more closely at the workings of this so-called charity, which is in effect the extended arm of the Home Office and does not seem to be meeting its charitable aims.

Updated 10 July 2023: Migrant Help: Court of Appeals Decision

We have been concerned since the announcement of the government’s decision to move forward with the offshore processing of asylum seekers to Rwanda last year. We firmly believed this decision is not in keeping with the care and compassion shown by the British people who have opened their homes to those in need of safety. Along with over 150 organisations, we called on the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary to reconsider this policy that would have seen vulnerable people being sent to a country with a poor record on human rights.  

Today, the Court of Appeals has agreed. The Court has ruled it unlawful for people seeking asylum to be sent to Rwanda to have their claims processed. Stating that “there are substantial grounds for believing that there is a real risk that any persons sent to Rwanda will be removed to their home country when, in fact, they have a good claim for asylum”. 

This decision will result in important changes that will impact the displaced people that Migrant Help work hard to support and welcome into the UK. We hope that based on this judgement, going forward the Government will ensure policy-specific conversations are had with sector experts.  

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Person holding a phone and the Migrant Help logo reading 'Migrant no Help'

As the government pushes ahead with ever more draconian punishment for people fleeing war, tyranny and persecution, many of us feel compelled to act. While there are countless incredible people working at a grassroots level to support refugees and people seeking asylum, it’s also a field ripe for exploitation. Donating your hard-earned cash to certain migrant charities might not reach the people you’d hoped to help. Even more concerning, your donations might actually enforce the government’s hostile environment policies.

This article looking at the charity Migrant Help, is the first in a series of reports examining the corporate interests behind organisations working with refugees and people seeking asylum. We interviewed people working with refugees who had frequent contact with the organisation. We found that:


The Migrant Help Contract – an Orwellian creation

10 October 2021: Please write to your MP: This report is from a member of the QARN steering group who works pro bono on asylum claims. 

In September 2019 the charity “Migrant Help” took over from G4S and SERCO the contract to provide help and assistance to asylum seekers housed around England in no-choice accommodation. They also took over from the Refugee Council the contract to provide “initial accommodation” at numerous centres around the country. They took on the additional responsibility of processing support claims, formerly an in-house function of the Home Office. This was indeed a massive task for what had hitherto been a local organisation providing assistance in Dover and Kent. Yet the new contract was supposed to remedy the often glaring failures of Migrant Help’s multi-national predecessors.

Within little over a month 120 charities from throughout England were lending their names to a joint letter to Victoria Adkins, the Minister then responsible for the workings of the contract. As the single contact point for all problems with housing, including furnishing and hygiene, Migrant Help was mostly unobtainable on the phone number provided in anything less than several hours. Service delivery was minimal in quantity and quality. The individuals on the other end of the line were well-meaning  but under-resourced and under-informed and probably horrendously overstretched.

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