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  • Project contributors: McGhee D, Anderson B, Bennett C, Walker S,

    This Project is linked to the following Strand/s:

    Migration and Mobility


    This project examined the Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) programmes available to migrants in the UK. There is little research on AVR programmes in the UK; what we do know is that non-government organisation's play a central role in the administration of the programmes and advisors of potential returnees.

    This research investigated; what governs different NGOs' reasons for suggesting particular return options; what are the differing roles of NGOs who administer AVRs and those who do not; how and why NGOs (and the Welfare Officers in Detention Centres they work with) advise on particular return modes; how is the place of 'safe country' determined; what is the meaning of 'sustainability' in the advice given to returnees; what are the advantages and disadvantages of 'directive' and 'non-directive' approaches in NGO consultations with AVR applicants; what is the wider NGO sectors' perspective on the current political focus on programmed returns for asylum seekers (rather than irregular migrants) and foreign national prisoners; what information do NGOs need to support people faced with return; what is the relationship between those NGOs directly involved in administering AVR and the wider asylum/irregular migrant focused NGO sector.


    Using UKBA and NGO data we created a database on the take up of AVRs (disaggregated by scheme type gender, age, single individual/family and country of origin). In addition, we collected data through individual interviews with; 1) Refugee Action Staff in their four regional offices, IOM (London) staff, Welfare Officers, Refugee Action Migration staff, and IOM staff in Detention Centres; 2) representatives from UKBA and the Home Office.


    In our preliminary review of available literatures we found that; (1) returnees prioritise advice from friends, families and NGOs; (2) NGO involvement is sensitive and there is a danger that 'facilitation' can be perceived as 'encouragement' by potential returnees and their supporters; (3) there is a lack of information available to NGOs and individuals who are supporting migrants facing return.

    Publications & Activities

    NGO-Government 'policy spaces' - and examination of Refugee Action's 'policy work' in the context of delivering services funded by the Home Office
    Voluntary Sector Review (2016).
    Authors: McGhee D, Bennett C, Walker S,

    What is the role of NGOs in the assisted voluntary returns of asylum seekers and irregular migrants?
    COMPAS Breakfast Briefing (2014). (COMPAS, University of Oxford)
    Authors: Anderson B, McGhee D, Bennett C,

    Between a Rock and Hard Place: Assisted Voluntary Return and the Choice to Return
    BSA Conference 2014: Changing Society (2014). (University of Leeds)
    Authors: Anderson B, Walker S,

    The Assisted Voluntary Return Programme in UK: How Does the Receipt of Government Funding Impact on the Relationship, Advocacy and Independence of the Refugee Sector?
    BSA Conference 2014: Changing Society (2014). (University of Leeds)
    Authors: Bennett C, McGhee D,


    Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR): Government Funding and the Refugee Sector University of Oxford faculty of law website. 2014
    Blog written by Derek McGhee and Claire Bennett titled "Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR): Government Funding and the Refugee Sector"