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Toynbee Hall launches immigration advice research project

Published: 30 Apr 2013


Toynbee Hall has been awarded £90,000 of funding from Unbound Philanthropy to support a research and development project that will look at provision and quality of immigration advice within our local community, and explore the potential to deliver immigration advice using a social enterprise/non-profit model.

The East End of London has traditionally been a place where communities new to the UK have settled.  When Toynbee Hall was founded in 1884, the local community comprised a large number of Jewish migrants.  More recently, the area has been characterised by a large Bangladeshi community. With this high number of migrants comes a demand for immigration advice.  However, reform to the Legal Aid system has seen immigration advice taken out of scope and so recourse to public funds has all but disappeared.  In turn, this has led to the good quality, local law firms withdrawing from the market. The ongoing high demand means that local people are vulnerable to fee-charging agencies who have a reputation for poor quality advice and exploitative fee structures.

The Unbound funded project aims to map the local providers of immigration advice and, using primary source material, assess the quality, effectiveness and value for money of the services that are provided.  In addition to this, we will seek to analyse the effectiveness of the regulatory framework that oversees the provision of immigration advice services.  Drawing on our research, we will then look at the feasibility of developing an immigration advice service using a social enterprise/non-profit model.

We look forward to updating you as the project develops.