Fence with lights in the background

Action Foundation: A community engagement pilot in the UK for women at risk of detention

Action Foundation

The organisation

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.