Project duration: November 2019 - ongoing

This project aims to improve asylum decision-making by raising the quality of country information. We develop and teach a research training curriculum to legal representatives in the UK, who use these skills to better substantiate their clients' asylum claims.

The workshop was one of the best I had been to and I was able to learn a great deal! The information I was able to take away from this workshop will continue to improve my research skills invaluably when advocating for others." - A training participant

In our training series, we aim to target in particular those representatives in asylum dispersal areas outside of London with high numbers of asylum-seekers and low numbers of available support services.

Our Fundamentals training webinars Researching and Using Country of Origin Information cover the following topics:

  • What is country of origin information (COI), when can it be used and what are its limits
  • How to frame research questions and develop a research strategy
  • Identifying sources of COI that address these questions and applying practical research techniques
  • Understanding quality criteria for researching, selecting and presenting COI
  • Presenting COI to decision makers according to best practice in the UK
  • How to request research from Asylos and ARC Foundation

Our training handbook Country of Origin Information (COI): Evidencing asylum claims in the UK was developed specifically for this training series and contains all relevant information that webinar participants need to know. It explains basic principles of country-of-origin information research, its use in the UK refugee status determination, quality criteria, research tips and guidance on avoiding common pitfalls.

"The training ... was very informative and interesting. Content was excellent, the workshop was very practical and gave us precious guidance and tips on how to approach COI and research when gathering evidence to support clients. Trainers were all very knowledgeable and available to answer questions. I would highly recommend this workshop, not only to caseworkers but also to solicitors that might need some support in improving their COI research skills."
- Greta Nonni, South London Refugee Association

The thematic webinar Child-Focused Country of Origin Information was launched in January 2021. It discusses the legal instruments and principles that lay out the various ways in which protection claims from children need to be treated differently to those from adults in refugee status determination procedures. This includes the various different considerations, and legal interpretations, that decision makers should apply when assessing children’s asylum claims, and what this means for researchers conducting child-focused COI. The workshop involves practical case studies to demonstrate how child specific issues can translate into appropriate research strategies. A supplementary handbook for the child-focused training was made available to participants.

We delivered 16 webinar sessions, training a total of 386 participants. Four of these webinars were delivered in partnership with Refugee Action's Front Line Immigration Advice Project. In total, 59% of our UK-based training participants were based in areas outside of London that are 'legal aid deserts'.

We are pleased about participants' active engagement in the webinar and enthusiasm about the prospect of furthering fairer asylum-decisions as a result of learning gained from the course.

"Thank you both so much for today’s excellent training. I found it really helpful ... . It’s not always easy taking time out of case work, but this was absolutely worthwhile."
- Charlotte Alderson, Solicitor at Asylum Aid

Would you like to sponsor future training sessions and/or discuss the possibility of setting up an in-house webinar for your UK-based organisation? Get in touch with us at [email protected].

We thank the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the AB Charitable Trust for their kind financial support.