What We Do

HMSC endeavours to provide holistic and in-depth advice, support and casework on immigration, welfare and housing issues for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers across London. We also run a regular community space, and we tackle the root causes of the issues our visitors face through our campaigning and policy.

Advice and casework

Visitors to HMSC first contact us through our New Enquiries phone line, on Thursdays. The visitor’s needs will be briefly assessed by a member of staff and if the issue is something that we can assist with, they will be invited to a triage appointment on a Monday. During triage, volunteers (supervised by members of staff) undertake an assessment, identify the visitor’s needs, collect key information, alleviate immediate hardship (eg referral to a foodbank) and provide emergency support.

Following triage, visitors are offered the appropriate support, including:

  • Immigration advice from our in-house immigration advisors or partners (at Islington Law Centre and Leigh Day), and follow-up casework as appropriate;
  • Support with access to legal representation, including applications for Exceptional Case Funding (ECF) and referrals to legal aid lawyers;
  • Expert housing and destitution advice and casework from our in-house advisers;
  • Referral to community care solicitors at a partner firm;
  • Casework support on other issues including health, education and wellbeing;
  • A weekly Catch-up line that any existing visitor can call to have an update on their case or ask a question.

Our visitors include asylum seekers, refugees and migrants with insecure immigration status who have been affected by the ‘hostile environment’ agenda. Around two thirds of the people we support are women, most of whom have children.

We operate thanks to a small team of staff and many great volunteers, who play a crucial role in the organization of our services.

Last year:

  • HMSC supported 500 individual visitors (along with their 490 dependent children)
  • 138 individuals received immigration advice
  • 105 individuals received housing and welfare advice
  • 57 Subject Access Requests were made to the Home Office to get files so visitor’s immigration histories could be fully established
  • Exceptional Case Funding was applied for and granted for 34 visitors whose cases fell out of the scope of Legal Aid
  • 79 visitors were successfully referred to a solicitor to get representation in their immigration or housing cases
  • We distributed 243 supermarket vouchers or small hardship payments

Campaigning and policy

In 2023, we have expanded our work in campaigning and policy. We are developing our work advocating for a fairer world and the end of the hostile environment for migrants. We are also busy preparing a conference for 2024. You can find out more about HMSC’s campaigning and policy work here.