ATD Pilot Projects
Each adapted to their own national context, the pilot projects in the European ATD Network work with a range of migrant cohorts to provide case management as an alternative to immigration detention. They explore how alternatives based on engagement can reduce absconding and work towards case resolution, meeting the needs of migrants and States.
The pilots aim to generate evidence and models for effective alternatives, in order to initiate discussions and partnership between civil society and governments around shared interests in fair and effective immigration systems in which immigration detention is only used as a last resort.
JRS Belgium: Supporting families with children in the community
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organisation which has as its mission to accompany and serve refugees and forced migrants, as well as to advocate for their rights. In Belgium, the JRS is committed to promoting hospitality, and to accompanying and defending refugees and forced migrants in detention centres and return houses.
The pilot & main goals
‘Plan Together’ is a rights-based ATD pilot based in the community that provides independent, holistic case management to families with minor children who are at risk of detention in Belgium. It enables children to stay in a familiar environment in their community while they and their parent(s) work towards case resolution with the assistance of two case managers who visit the families at their homes regularly. The overall objective of the pilot is to contribute to a reduction in the use of detention in general and to end child detention for migration-related reasons.
Case management is tailored to the individual needs of each family member and the best interest of the child. The programme is not time-bound, and focuses on building a relationship of trust, strengthening the families’ resilience, and providing them with correct and clear information about their cases. It is geared towards exploring all options for a durable solution: legal stay in Belgium, relocation to another EU Member State, or voluntary return to their country of origin.
For more information on Plan Together, click here.
To read JRS Belgium’s position on Alternatives to Detention, click here.
HumanRights360: Pioneering case management-based ATD in Greece
HumanRights360 is a civil society organisation established in Greece whose work is grounded in the belief that the cornerstone of integration is access to fundamental human rights. It is only by protecting the individual, political and social rights of the whole population and by ensuring access to rights and justice, that we can achieve social cohesion. Thus, HumanRights360’s mission is to protect and empower the rights of all, without discrimination and with a special focus on the most disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.
The pilot & main goals
HumanRights 360’s ATD pilot project supports people at risk of immigration detention through the provision of holistic support. It aims to show that placing individuals and families in the community during the migration process, and providing them with the support that they need, can contribute to increased social cohesion and compliance with the system. Through the pilot, HumanRights360 constructively engages with both municipal and national authorities in order to shift mentalities away from detention as the default option and ensure current legal frameworks are being implemented.
HumanRights360 focuses their holistic case management efforts on people with irregular migration status and those at risk of becoming irregular in Greece. Based in Athens, the pilot provides comprehensive case management, linking this to legal, psychosocial, and educational support, as well as facilitating access to other basic services.
To read more about the setting up of an ATD pilot in Greece, click here.
For more about HumanRights360 and their work with people on the move in Greece, click here.
CILD and Progetto Diritti: Towards more effective and humane migration management in Italy
The Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (Coalizione Italiana per le Libertà e i Diritti civili – CILD) is a network of civil society organisations that protects and expands the rights and liberties of all, through a combination of advocacy, public education and legal action.
Established in 1985, Progetto Diritti is a non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting the rights of the most vulnerable and promoting local development. Progetto Diritti provides legal and social assistance and guidance, with the support of legal experts and social workers, to people on the move in need of support.
The pilot & main goals
The pilot run jointly by CILD and Progetto Diritti provides holistic case management to migrants at risk of detention, including beneficiaries of humanitarian protection, vulnerable individuals, and people who have experienced labour exploitation.
Linking practical implementation with advocacy, the pilot takes advantage of the reach and diversity of expertise within CILD’s civil society coalition and of Progetto Diritti’s case work experience. It aims to support migrants to work to resolve their cases while strengthening the national evidence base and increasing ATD practice among civil society organisations in Italy.
To read Progetto Diritti’s guide to case management, click here.
For more about immigration detention in Italy, click here to visit the Black Holes (‘Buchi Neri’) website.
Action Foundation: A community engagement pilot in the UK for women at risk of detention
Action Foundation is a charity based in Newcastle upon Tyne that supports and empowers people seeking asylum, refugees and migrants in the North East to overcome immediate barriers, integrate with the community, and build skills for the future. Through a number of specialised projects, Action Foundation aims to plug a gap in existing provision and enable vulnerable migrants to avoid falling into homelessness and extreme poverty, access vital services and legal support, increase their skills and employability, and integrate and live independently.
The pilot & main goals
In 2018, the UK Government announced the creation of a Community Engagement Pilot Series, which set out to test approaches to supporting people to resolve their immigration cases in the community. Following a successful bid process, Action Foundation was granted the contract for the first of the pilots.
The Action Access pilot ran between 2019 and 2021 and supported 20 women seeking asylum in a community setting in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the North East of England. With one exception, prior to joining the pilot all of the women had been detained in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. Upon joining the pilot, the women were provided with shared accommodation, received one-to-one case management support from Action Foundation staff, and were supported to access legal counselling. The women also benefited from Action Foundation’s broader program of activity such as its free English language classes and weekly community gatherings, facilitating socialisation, signposting and referrals. The purpose of the project was to improve voluntary engagement with the immigration system, particularly for those who would otherwise be detained, while being supported in the community to resolve their immigration case in a humane and cost-effective way.
For more information on the Action Access pilot, and to read the pilot evaluation report, click here.
To read the UK Government announcement of the launch of Action Access, click here.
CLA - Voice in Bulgaria: Ensuring the protection of migrants with precarious status
The Centre for Legal Aid – Voice in Bulgaria is an NGO based in Sofia whose mission is to ensure respect for the human dignity of refugees and migrants and to contribute to their empowerment and independence. CLA – Voice in Bulgaria sets out to promote and protect the rights of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups on the territory of Bulgaria by providing legal assistance and conducting advocacy.
The organisations provides provide free legal advice to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, as well as representation in administrative and judicial proceedings at national and European level. They also provide free legal consultations and conduct group information sessions for foreigners detained in Bulgaria.
CLA – Voice in Bulgaria conducts advocacy campaigns and activities aimed at changing public attitudes and establishing institutional and judicial practices – as well as legislation – that is in line with international and European standards. They also conduct research in the field of migration and migration policies and their implementation.
The pilot & main goals
CLA – Voice in Bulgaria has been carrying out an ATD pilot project since 2017 that aims to promote the use of individualised ATD as a mainstream recourse for government institutions, and to further develop the case management model as a tool for the successful implementation of ATD. The pilot works with people who would otherwise be detained or at risk of immigration detention.
CLA-Voice in Bulgaria works according to the principles of holistic case management in order to help to stabilise people in the community and avoid (re)detention while they work to resolve their case. Along with the case management support provided to individuals, CLA-Voice in Bulgaria undertakes advocacy to promote the use of case management and to promote a positive and engagement-based approach to migration management, including through the introduction of legal pathways to regularisation.
To read the evaluation report for the first 2-year phase of CLA-Voice in Bulgaria’s ATD pilot, click here.
To learn more about immigration detention in Bulgaria, including ATD, click here.
Cyprus Refugee Council: Providing ATD for people in asylum and migration procedures
The Cyprus Refugee Council (CyRC), is an independent, non-profit organisation, established in 2017 as the evolution of the Humanitarian Affairs Unit of the NGO Future Worlds Center. CyRC’s team is made up of dedicated professionals with extensive experience working directly with refugees, asylum seekers, detainees, trafficking victims, survivors of torture and people in an irregular migration situation. The organisation has as its mission to safeguard, support and advocate for the rights of vulnerable groups in Cyprus, promoting their effective integration and working closely with local communities in order to provide quality services.
CyRC utilises an inter-disciplinary approach to provide individualised legal, social and psychological support to people on the move in Cyprus, with the aim to ensure access to rights, integration into the local communities, and improved wellbeing.
The pilot & main goals
The main objectives of CyRC’s ATD pilot are to reduce immigration detention, promote engagement-based ATD, and contribute to the growing evidence and momentum on ATD at a national and regional level. The team provides individualised case management-based support to people in detention or at risk of detention including people in the asylum process, people with irregular immigration status, and those with barriers to return. The approach is based on holistic support that encourages trust and supports engagement with the immigration system, working towards case resolution in the community. CyRC provides social counselling, mediation with the authorities, psychological support, legal advice, and referral to other organisations/services to cover people’s basic needs.
In addition, CyRC’s “advocacy through doing” approach involves advocating with the authorities on individual cases in order to highlight the benefits of engagement-based ATD more generally. This is facilitated by using evidence derived from case management, highlighting good practices or policies for specific groups, maintaining alliances with civil society organisations and other independent bodies, and highlighting systemic gaps and the ineffectiveness of enforcement-based approaches.
To read more about the ATD pilot in Cyprus click here.
To read the evaluation report for the first 2-year phase of CyRC’s ATD pilot, click here.
Association for Legal Intervention: 'No Detention Necessary' in Poland
The Association for Legal Intervention (SIP) is a Polish civil society organisation based in Warsaw. SIP’s primary objective is to take steps aimed at ensuring that human rights are respected and that no individual is treated unequally, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, religion and migration status.
SIP seeks to encourage social cohesion by promoting the equality of all people in the face of the law. The organisation primarily supports refugees and migrants in Poland, given the high risks that these groups face of being socially excluded or discriminated against. SIP’s activities range from provision of legal advice and representation, to supporting migrants to navigate Polish systems and access essential services, to advocating for the rights of people on the move with decision makers.
The pilot & main goals
SIP’s pilot project – ‘No Detention Necessary’ – promotes and expands the use of ATD by implementing an engagement-based case management model based on the Revised Community Assessment and Placement (CAP) model, developed by the International Detention Coalition (IDC). The pilot team has supported people released from detention, referred to SIP by the authorities, with holistic case management, legal aid and psychological care. Engagement with the authorities has been key for developing a shared understanding of what successful ATD looks like.
For SIP, implementation of an ATD pilot project has been an opportunity to test the CAP model in the context of a so called `transit country` and convince decision makers that engagement-based ATDs are effective, thus contributing to a reduction in the use of detention.
To learn more about SIP’s ATD pilot in Poland, click here.
To read the evaluation report for the first 2-year phase of SIP’s ATD pilot, click here.
Detention Action: Supporting migrants with complex needs in the UK
Detention Action is a UK-based charity that seeks to defend the rights and improve the welfare of people in immigration detention by combining support for individuals with campaigning for policy change. Detention Action works in a number of Immigration Removal Centres in the UK, as well as with people held under immigration powers in London prisons.
The project & main goals
Since 2014, Detention Action has been running the Community Support Project (CSP), an alternative to detention scheme that works with men who have experienced or are at risk of long-term immigration detention. The participants in the project all have significant barriers to removal.
The project aims to address the particular needs and issues raised by each participant and works with them to create a transition plan, setting out goals and actions. Ongoing assistance is provided by caseworkers which takes into account the varied emotional and practical needs of each participant, including support in consequential thinking techniques and advocacy with statutory and non-statutory bodies on their behalf.
The Community Support Project aims to reduce the risk of absconding and reoffending of young male ex-offenders with barriers to removal, assisting them to meet the conditions of their release and avoid long-term detention. Through one-to-one case management, participants develop skills and confidence to stabilise their lives, participate in the community, and maintain contact with the authorities. Ultimately, the project sets out to show that, when case management principles are followed, alternatives can work for even the most complex situations: people with previous convictions and barriers to removal.
To learn more about the Community Support Project, click here.
To read Detention Action’s flagship report on immigration detention and ATD in the UK, ‘Without Detention’, click here.