Source description last updated: 21 August 2020
In brief: Consonant, formerly Asylum Aid/the Migrant Resource Centre (MRC), is a London-based non-profit organisation that seeks to help immigrants to Britain in matters relating to asylum/immigration law and participation in society.
Coverage on ecoi.net:
No longer regularly covered. Previously: Covered quarterly on ecoi.net for countries of priorities A, B and C.
In 2016, the British NGOs Asylum Aid and the Migrants Resource Centre (MRC) merged to form one organisation. The new organisation formally rebranded itself as Consonant in April 2019.
Consonant provides “legal advice to help people fleeing persecution and violence to live safely in the UK. We also assist individuals and businesses overcome legal barriers to living and working in the UK.”
In matters regarding asylum and human rights, “[a]s standard, we will assess whether applicants are eligible and advise on their options. […] In addition to asylum applications, our specialists have a successful track advising clients applying for family reunion, travel documents, or facing removal, detention and/or deportation. We are also experts in nationality law and represent clients who are stateless.” (Consonant website: Consonant, the new name for Migrants Resource Centre and Asylum Aid, undated).
In a statement issued in August 2020 (Third Sector: Asylum seeker support charity to close, 10 August 2020), Consonant announced that it would “shortly be closing” after facing “significant financial difficulties which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.” However, the organisation stated that it had reached an agreement for “the transfer of Asylum Aid to the control of the Helen Bamber Foundation (HBF) (Consonant website: Consonant Update: Consonant Closing; Asylum Aid Reborn, undated), an organisation working with survivors of torture and trafficking (Third Sector: Asylum seeker support charity to close, 10 August 2020). According to Consonant, this would “secure[…] the future of the Asylum Aid entity and brand” and “allow the continuation of […] Asylum Aid’s legal aid advice and representation on behalf of asylum seekers and refugees” (Consonant website: Consonant Update: Consonant Closing; Asylum Aid Reborn, undated).
Consonant charges fees for its legal services. As the organisation says, “100% of our profits from our fees […] fund our charity’s life-changing services.” (Consonant website: Where your money goes, undated)
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: all countries
Thematic focus: asylum and immigration, human rights with a focus on the rights of women and girls (sexual and gender-based violence, domestic violence, trafficking on women; female genital mutilation etc.)
Reports may be based on qualitative research and case studies (see, for example, Asylum Aid: Relocation, Relocation The impact of internal relocation on women asylum seekers, 28 November 2008, pp. 13–14), combined with desk research in public sources (see, for example, Asylum Aid: Relocation, Relocation The impact of internal relocation on women asylum seekers, 28 November 2008). No current information could be found on research methodologies used by Consonant.
Language of publication:
Further reading / links:
Charity Times: Immigration charity to close due to Covid-19, 11 August 2020
All links accessed 20 August 2020.
Last available source description under the name "Asylum Aid":
Source description last updated: 8 January 2017
In brief: Asylum Aid is a British organisation working to secure protection for people fleeing from persecution and human rights abuses abroad and seeking asylum in the United Kingdom, by providing free legal advice and publishing research reports.
Coverage on ecoi.net:
Research Reports (SR)
Covered quarterly on ecoi.net, for countries of priorities A-C.
“On 1 July 2016, Asylum Aid merged with Migrants Resource Centre. The merger allows us to provide a much wider range of services to our refugee clients, including immigration advice, housing welfare and debt advice, employability training, and English language training. […]
Asylum Aid works to secure protection for people seeking refuge in the UK from persecution and human rights abuses abroad. We provide free legal advice and representation to the most vulnerable and excluded asylum seekers, and lobby and campaign for an asylum system based on inviolable human rights principles.” (Asylum Aid website: About Asylum Aid, undated)
Asylum Aid’s goals are “To provide free and accessible legal representation of the highest quality, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable and excluded asylum seekers;
To campaign vigorously for a fair asylum process based on inviolable human rights principles. […]To sustain a stable, independent and purposeful organisation which benefits all the people who need our help, and all the organisations with which we work. […]
We believe that human rights are unconditional, and that our commitment to promoting equality and justice should govern and inform every aspect of our work
We believe that Asylum Aid should work to the highest professional standards to realise this commitment
We believe in working collaboratively to advance our aims and to ensure that refugees can influence the direction and perspectives of the organisation.” (Asylum Aid website: About Asylum Aid, undated)
Asylum Aid’s latest annual report was published in 2013 mentioning their total income, coming from voluntary income, activities for generating funds, interest receivable and charitable activities, amounting to £747,465. (see Asylum Aid website: Annual Report 2013, p.10, May 2013)
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: The United Kingdom and countries of origin of asylum seekers arriving in the UK.
Thematic focus: Legal advice, persecution, relocation, women & girls, HIV/AIDS.
“In order to implement our recommendations, we work closely with the Home Office, the Legal Services Commission, and the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency. We also work with legal representatives, academics, the UN Refugee Agency and other organisations in the asylum sector and beyond.” (Asylum Aid website: Campaigning, undated)
“Asylum Aid lobbies for change as active members of a number of coalitions and umbrella organisations, including”: Still Human Still Here, Asylum Rights Campaign, Women’s Resource Centre, The Detention Forum, European Council on Refugees and Exiles, European Network on Statelessness, End Violence Against Women. (Asylum Aid website: Working with others, undated)
For instance, in order to have a broader picture on the situation of women and girl refugees in Europe, “EWL [(European Women’s Lobby)] members and experts on violence against women worked together and provided their analysis on the situation in their country, through a questionnaire looking at national policies on violence against women and on asylum, and the situation on the ground.” (Asylum Aid website: Listening to refugee #WomensVoices, August 2016)
Language(s) of publications:
Further reading / links:
Migrants Resource Centre: http://www.migrantsresourcecentre.org.uk
All links accessed 8 January 2017.
ecoi.net's source descriptions contain background information on an organisation’s mission & objective, funding and reporting methodology, as well as on how we cover the source. The descriptions were prepared after researching publicly accessible information within time constraints. Most information contained in a source description was taken from the source itself. The aim is to provide a brief introduction to the sources covered regularly, offering information on relevant aspects in one place in a systematic manner.