Good practice in social care for refugees and asylum seekers

Pointers for good practice: Ensuring access

Providing accessible information

There are many opportunities through the asylum process to provide information to asylum seekers about their rights and responsibilities of local authorities in relation to social care.

Information needs to be made available in appropriate formats − for example, in a child-friendly format for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people. Refugee and community organisations play an invaluable role in terms of providing information about rights and signposting and supporting asylum seekers and refugees to access appropriate services.

Ensuring effective communication

Key elements for good practice in working with interpreters with asylum seekers and refugees are:

Communication with asylum seekers and refugees, who have additional needs, for example sensory impairments or learning disabilities, will also need consideration. Interpreters are likely to have training needs in terms of understanding the service context and specific issues that asylum seekers and refugees may be experiencing and which may have implications for communication (e.g. domestic violence, abuse, or mental health issues).

See Raval, H. (2006). Mental health training for bilingual co-workers in the context of working with people seeking asylum and refugees. Primary mental health care, 4, 1, 37–44.This paper outlines training for bilingual co-workers (i.e. interpreters) and practitioners working with children and, families, adults and older adults.

Refugee Council offers training on working with interpreters.

See practice example: Stockport Interpreting Unit


Advocacy is needed at both an individual level and a community level to:

The Children’s Commissioner has recommended that all children should be appointed a guardian who is independent and can act as an advocate and enable children to participate effectively in reviews.

The Mental Health Act 2007 introduced the provision of IMHA to ensure that detained patients understand their rights under the Act and are supported to participate in decisions about their care and treatment.

Mind has developed a training programme for refugee and community organisations (RCOs) in mental health advocacy.

Timely and streamlined assessment of needs for social care

One-stop services

These can be:

It is important that these services are:

Clear and appropriate eligibility criteria for services