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

    This Project is part of the following research programme/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,

    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,

    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,

    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,


    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"