Good practice in social care for refugees and asylum seekers

About this guide


The purpose of this guide is to support commissioners and providers of social care services to work effectively with refugees and asylum seekers. It is based on the fact that refugees and asylum seekers have rights, including the right to a high quality of assessment and provision in response to their social care needs. The guide will help practitioners to understand policy and practice relevant to asylum seekers and refugees. It is worth noting from the outset that this is an area where the legislative and policy framework changes frequently and some details may quickly become out of date. However, the general principles and approaches described in this guide will be longer-lasting. The guide provides:

The guide draws on SCIE Report 31 Good practice in social care for refugees and asylum seekers. This features a literature review and a practice survey, including focus groups with asylum seekers and refugees and a survey of disability charities, asylum seekers and refugee organisations and local authorities across England, Northern Ireland and Wales in order to identify indicators of good practice and practical examples, which are discussed in this guide. These examples illustrate local positive responses to promoting the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.

Who is it for?

This guide is aimed primarily at professionals working in local authorities in children’s and adult services. It is aimed at both a strategic level for those planning and commissioning social care provision for asylum seekers and refugees and at professionals involved in everyday practice. It may be particularly useful for those organisations that have relatively little experience of commissioning and providing social care services for asylum seekers and refugees. It will also be of interest to asylum seeker and refugee organisations and relevant charities who may be providing social care, and to other organisations with a responsibility for meeting the broader health and social care needs of asylum seekers and refugees, namely clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), mental health organisations and housing providers.


We are deeply grateful to those individuals and organisations that have supported this work. We are particularly grateful to the women, men, young people and children, seeking asylum or refugee, who gave their time so generously to help us with this project. We are also appreciative of the time and interest from refugee and community organisations and local authorities. Special thanks go to the additional support and advice that we received from Laura Buckley, Eileen Jackson, Henry Mumbi, Dr Azim el-Hassan and Pete Fleischmann.

We are grateful to members of our Project Steering Group for their time and invaluable comments. We would also like to thank those other individuals and organisations that have given freely of their time and advice and have agreed to be included in this guide.

Project Steering Group members: Zemikael Habte-Mariam (chair), Dr Azim-el Hassan, Pete Fleischmann (SCIE), Henry Mumbi (Community Health Action Trust), Nadia Ahmed, Karen Newbigging and Professor Ajit Shah.