Services and Support

What are the services and support Justice First provides?

Who are the people we help?

How do we know that our work is needed?

What are the services and support we provide?

Justice First responds to the needs of people living in the Tees Valley area who are seeking asylum in the UK and who have initially been refused leave to stay here. People in this position may have a very good case for asylum, but have no recourse to legal aid and no access to benefits. They are legally prevented from working and are therefore often destitute and desperate for help.

We provide this help by assisting them to gather the evidence that they need to mount an appeal and offering access to practical help to meet basic needs. People come to Justice First with a wide range of problems and requests. For those whose applications have been rejected, but who have a reasonable prospect of being granted asylum, our focus is to help them to re-engage with the legal system by submission of a fresh claim, or further appeal/judicial review.

Once a fresh claim or appeal is made, state support is reinstated. If successful, the asylum seeker can also seek work. Justice First provides a safe, welcoming environment that enables people to gain our trust, to tell their story and to access the advice and support that they need.  Justice First also provides access to practical help, including food, clothing and a very limited amount of financial assistance, which comes from a separate fund.

We also work in partnership with many other agencies who are supporting asylum seekers and we undertake educational work aimed at widening public understanding of the plight of asylum seekers.

Who are the people we help?

Our clients come from some of the most troubled regions in the world. They are typically fleeing violence, war, oppression and discrimination.  They have come to the UK seeking safety and a chance to start afresh and make a new life for themselves.

In order to be allowed to remain here, asylum seekers must prove to the Home Office that it is dangerous for them to return to their country of origin. Refugees often escape their country of origin with no documentation that can prove their nationality, age, religion or ethnicity.

The oppression that they are fleeing may be racial or religious, or because of their sexual orientation or political affiliation.  It is often not easy to prove that they face danger should they return and many fail to do so at their first attempt. Asylum seekers in this position are not eligible for legal aid and often feel desperate and trapped into hiding from officialdom and tempted into entering the illegal economy as their only means of survival.

Justice First works to encourage them to re-engage with the legal process and supports them with advice from qualified specialists in immigration law and with practical help. Justice Frist promotes its services through other organisations and charities on Teesside that support refugees and asylum seekers and many, if not most, of our clients, find out about us through word of mouth – the recommendation of others who have used our services.

How do we know that our work is needed?

The demand for our services is increasing and the legal challenges that asylum seekers face are becoming more demanding. The Tees Valley area continues to receive more asylum seekers and has the highest number of asylum seekers per head of population in the UK.

Unfortunately, the wars, oppression and violence in many Asian and African and middle eastern countries, that are driving people to leave and seek sanctuary elsewhere show no sign of abating. As Justice First builds its reputation as a reliable and trusted source of help and advice for asylum seekers, so the demand for our work grows.

We do not employ lawyers, but our staff have been trained in relevant legal areas of migration law and Justice First is OISC (Office of Immigration Services Commissioner) level 2 registered. The expertise of our staff is widely recognised. It is important for them to keep up to date with recent changes in legislation and regulations and, in particular, the growing importance of the use of Article Eight of the Human Rights Act, which protects the right to respect for a private life, family life, and a home. This can be used by asylum seekers who have children in the UK to build a case for them to be granted leave to remain here, but they cannot receive legal aid to pay a lawyer to act for them.  This is an area of work in which demand is growing.