At DCRS, we believe that the process of claiming asylum should be safe, dignified and fair. We equip asylum seekers with an understanding of their rights and support them as they go through the system.
As asylum seekers, people using our service come from some of the most oppressive and dangerous countries in the world. To claim asylum in the UK is to seek protection from persecution in your country of origin. As a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the UK normally has a duty to offer this protection if a person's fears of persecution are well-founded. People using our service have asked for protection but have not yet been recognised as refugees, either because they are waiting for a decision or because they have been refused. It often takes many months to get a decision on an asylum claim and some people end up waiting years without their case even being considered.
"This place is important to people, especially when they first arrive" - service user
Why is there a need for our service?
Not all asylum claims are given fair and thorough consideration by the Home Office. According to the government's second quarterly immigration report of 2014, almost a third of asylum refusals are overturned at the appeal stage. A crucial part of our work is making sure that service users get decent legal representation during their asylum claim. The reduction in the national Legal Aid budget has also made it much more difficult for asylum seekers to access legal advice.
Not all asylum seekers understand their rights and responsibilities, particularly regarding housing, support, healthcare and the legal options open to them if their claim is refused.
Harsh policies relating to welfare and permission to work, delayed or incorrect decisions and administrative errors leave many asylum seekers without housing or any financial support.
Delays in the asylum process and being denied the right to work leaves asylum seekers lacking in confidence and the necessary skills to integrate into British society.
Poor physical or mental health among asylum seekers can be attributed to inadequate health services in their country of origin, frequent instances of poverty and social isolation in the UK as well as past experiences of violence and torture - to give some examples.
Reports and Newsletters
Our annual report covers all major developments for the year, along with a detailed account of our finances. Please click the links below to download these reports.
"I like to come here. It's friendly, I can talk with people" - service user
Now a registered charity based in the centre of Plymouth city, DCRS had its beginnings in a flat belonging to Isatta Kallon and her husband, Samuel. They had met in Russia after fleeing the conflict in Sierra Leone, eventually relocating to England. When Isatta and Samuel settled in Plymouth, they helped new arrivals to the UK by providing food and floor space in their home. They began to work with other organisations and individuals in the community, and eventually Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support was founded in 1999.
DCRS is managed by a board of trustees who volunteer their time to ensure that the centre keeps running and has funding for the future. Our caseworkers and team leader are regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner and are qualified to provide basic, level 1 immigration advice.