29th October 2021

From initial contact with asylum seeking women and survivors of trafficking to providing in depth information about the asylum system and providing ESOL classes, the role of RWC’s Early Action team is diverse, and covers a variety of different projects

What does the Early Action Team do?

Our aim is to work with our service users who are going through the asylum process to prevent them reaching crisis point. This includes running asylum information sessions, so they know their rights and entitlements whilst their asylum claim is being processed, have access to different local services and engage them in social support such as workshops and group activities. 

What does a day in the life of an EA team member look like?

Every day is different – it depends on the needs or the activities scheduled for a particular day. Some days can be full of doing more intense 1:1 support and others are taken up running workshops with large groups of women. Each day is unpredictable; we range from providing emotional support to sharing practical information. But it is always exciting and amazing to work with such incredible people.

What safeguarding concerns did you have during the pandemic?

Throughout the pandemic, there was a huge rise in social isolation, and it has had a hugely negative effect on people’s mental health. Charitable organisations are often the only services our client groups had access to due to financial restrictions and during the lockdowns, vital support was taken away from vulnerable people over night. It also meant that some safeguarding issues we would have been able to pick up on during face-to-face work were not always visible to us while delivering services online. The most commonly reported issues were rapid decline in mental health and being unable to access appropriate support.

How did you adapt services to cope with lockdowns?

We changed our services to completely online on the 17th of March 2020. We were really lucky and had a very generous donations of phones so that volunteers could carry on working with us remotely. We provided phone top ups for service users so that they can work remotely as well. We proactively contacted women we would usually see weekly at drop in sessions to ensure they still had access to appropriate support.

We also began a new project completely online to provide workshops for people who had newly arrived to Liverpool and were new to the asylum process. This also led us to developing a range of social activities (including art and ESOL groups) online so that we could keep in touch with our service users throughout the lockdowns.

How do you support women who have been trafficked into the UK?

Through our anti-trafficking project, we aim to meet women who have been trafficked as early as possible through the asylum and NRM process. Sometimes, the women we meet don’t recognise that what they have been through is trafficking or modern slavery, so we help provide information for them to understand what they have experienced. Some women disclose trafficking to the authorities but are not given a choice about what happens next, and don’t understand the processes that they are put into.

The most important part of the project is therefore helping women understand their options, their rights and entitlements in order to help them decide whether the NRM is right for them. We support women in the project, whether they enter the NRM scheme or not. We also provided 1:1 holistic support, including social support, engaging with solicitors and provide assistance to make their statement if they choose to enter the NRM, whilst they make these decisions.

Can you tell us about one of the highlights of your job?

The best thing about our job is that because we aim to work with women as early on in the process as possible, we see the impact of giving them legal information and support with their information and the difference this makes in terms of their experience of the asylum process.

In our Integration Workshops, we’ve seen that giving women information and encouragement to access local services results in women feeling confident enough to access medical services and other learning facilities independently. Above all, we really love meeting new service users, working with people in groups and sharing their enjoyment in the activities we offer.