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16 Nov 2022

RSD Drop-in Service and Immigration Advice - Latest Updates

RSD's Drop-in Service

In 2021 to early 2022, drop-in and immigration clinics’ staff and volunteers carried on seeing clients mostly face-to-face during the course of the year in spite of the uncertainties over Covid. As in the previous year, we saw clients by appointment only. Neli (our Casework Coordinator) and her volunteers supported 209 people through our drop-in service and immigration clinic with a total of 803 enquiries/visits between them. Of this total, there were 101 asylum seekers, 56 had a refugee or refugee background and 52 had complicated immigration status.

Take a look at this breakdown of the reasons why people contacted Refugee Support Devon:

Immigration advice goes up another level! 

Meanwhile, what an eventful year it has been for the immigration clinic! We started 2022 by offering immigration advice at OISC L2, under the supervision of James Conyers, Legal Trainer, Refugee Action. This was new and exciting territory for us.

“We had to navigate complex immigration cases that often involved human rights issues, such as the right to private/family life. Examples include helping a mother of a British child to apply for leave to remain as a parent after her asylum claim had been refused.  We also assisted someone who had lived in the UK for at least 20 years - and whose various applications for leave to remain were turned down - to finally being granted leave to remain.

“As a result of funding cuts to Legal Aid, people needing immigration advice – often on complex cases – don’t have access to Legal Aid. There’s one Legal Aid provider in Devon and Cornwall but most of their time is taken up with asylum cases with no capacity to take on other cases. We are working with other partners to fill this crucial gap in the south west.

“It took Tony and me, one of our dedicated volunteers, two attempts to pass the OISC L2 exam, which is known for its low pass rate and complexity. I shed a few tears, had more than a few sleepless nights and worked hard in the process. It was all worth it as we’re now registered to give OISC L2 advice, which is both a daunting and an exciting prospect! This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the support of James, our management team and our volunteers. My thanks to all of them!”

- Neli

 “Neli and Tony were thrown in at the deep end by some very challenging immigration cases, but their determination and professionalism meant they were never out of their depth.  It was an honour to supervise them!  RSD’s level 2 casework will be a lifeline for some of the South West’s most vulnerable migrants.”

James Conyers, Legal Trainer, Refugee Action

*This story originally appeared in Refugee Support Devon Annual Review 2021-2022, which you can read here.

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