New look Toolkit – our guide to the asylum and immigration system


Today we have launched the new look Right to Remain Toolkit – our step-by-step guide to the UK asylum and immigration system!

What we’ve been doing

Over the last 18 months, we’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes. We started off doing community workshops and interviews to find out more about the “digital behaviour” of people navigating the UK’s asylum and immigration system. We wanted to find out how people use the internet to find out information, so we could make sure our online legal information best matched that behaviour.

We learned a lot! We wrote quite a bit about in this blog post here.

We learned that, even with limited means, people spent a lot of time online. People were very aware how to find and use free wifi (though this was pre-Covid – the strict lockdowns meant that many of these wifi sources were unavailable during the pandemic). Almost everyone used their phones to access the internet rather than a tablet, laptop or desktop. While people were very confident using the internet for entertainment, for example, quite a lot of interviewees mentioned being less confident looking for information online. There was, generally speaking, a lack of awareness of indicators of trusted, safe information online.

Of perhaps most relevance to our work providing legal education resources online, we learned that – in marked contrast to the refugee and migration sector professionals who use our resources – people don’t tend to have “website loyalty”. People rarely had favourite websites they would bookmark (even if they were return users of, for example, the Right to Remain Toolkit, or the .gov website). If people wanted information about something, they would google it.

This was borne out in our analysis of our website statistics. Over 80% of Toolkit website users came via a google search. (You can see what else we learned from looking at our website stats here)

We had a lot of thinking and processing to do from all of the learning described above. We started to make some draft changes to the Toolkit (see below), but before making anything public, we tested these ideas out with our primary users/target users: people currently navigating the asylum and immigration system.

We tested out different versions of titles for sections of the guide. We asked people if they preferred pages with or without “accordion boxes” (dropdown panels that expand to reveal more text when you click on them). We asked people about how they would navigate different topics to find the information they need. This is called “usability testing”, or “user testing”. In a usability-testing session, a researcher “asks a participant to perform tasks, usually using one or more specific user interfaces. While the participant completes each task, the researcher observes the participant’s behavior and listens for feedback.” We carried out these sessions using zoom, with some of the asylum support groups we work with sourcing participants. It was fortunate that this element of our project was very easy to conduct online, which wasn’t what we had planned pre-pandemic.

What’s changed

  • The different pages of the Toolkit website have been renamed so that they are clearer to people looking at google search results
  • Some of the language has changed because we are no longer assuming that people see the guide as an overarching resource – each page and its information should stand alone
  • Clearer language, clearer audience. We hope it’s speaking more directly to people who are navigating the process – and uses more of the words that people use themselves to describe this process – while still of course being of use to those supporting other people to go through the process
  • There’s an updated, fresher look to the page design
  • The Toolkit home page is much simpler and just introduces what the website is with pictures and a few words. The more detailed information about the guide is on the new “About” page
  • There are some new pages! We’ve made a new page called “Asylum: appeal rights exhausted” as we realised this crucial stage of the asylum process needed its own page.
  • We’ve separated out some pages that had previously been collected together because we thought that people would use the Toolkit website following a vaguely chronological pattern. We know now that that generally isn’t the case.
  • We’ve also made some pages more specific to asylum, or immigration. We now have separate pages for entering the UK, depending on whether you are looking for information about immigration, or asylum (a page called “Visas” and a new page called “Entering the UK to claim asylum”.) We’ve also separated out the “After a Home Office Refusal” information – as the process for an immigration application, as opposed to an asylum or human rights decision, is quite different.
  • We’ve also responded to feedback about particularly long pages. The giant “Appeals” page is now two pages” “Submitting an Appeal” and “Your Appeal Hearing”. This means that people aren’t overwhelmed by information for processes that may be many months or even years apart
  • We have a new videos page! Take a look.
  • The content has been updated to the current rules, laws and policies (and we will continue doing this on a very regular basis) and we’ve improved the flow and structure of several pages

What hasn’t changed

  • We’ve retained the successful approach and framework of the Toolkit. As we explain on the new About page, the Toolkit is all about explaining a complicated legal process in clear, easy-to-understand language. We do this so people can understand their own legal case, prepare for what may come next, what their rights and options are. And so that people supporting those going through the legal system are better informed and better equipped to do that.
  • Quite a lot of the content has stayed the same, as the results of our Toolkit Users Survey showed that it’s doing the job well for people. Participants shared lots of positive results from using our resources, and were very positive about the content, layout and language used in the resource.
  • Similarly, we haven’t totally changed the look as it is familiar and popular with hundreds of organisations across the UK so why fix what isn’t broken!
  • We started using a Google Translate bar on the Toolkit website before this project, but hadn’t asked users what they thought of it. We did some “user testing” on it, and this confirmed that it’s popular and easy to use. We have some of the key content formally translated (see the links on the About page), the Google Toolbar means that people can get all of the Toolkit content auto-translated. We wrote about this process for Refugee Action here.
  • The name! We used this project as an opportunity to explore how well the name of the resource – the Right to Remain Toolkit – worked for people. We did an online survey, then did some zoom sessions exploring what language resonated with people and what didn’t. “Toolkit” is very familiar to some people because of our resource, though isn’t known to many people we spoke to as a generic term, when English is not their first language. We found that “guide” was a simpler and popular word, so we will be using that to explain what the resource is wherever possible. Some people fed back that “guide” was too generic, however, so there seems to be some value in retaining the known and specific name “Right to Remain Toolkit”. It also had positive “fixing things” associations for some people, and we particularly like one respondent’s way of defining it – “a bag you need in an emergency”.

So, welcome to the new-look Right to Remain Toolkit, a step-by-step free guide to the UK asylum and immigration system. All the important information you need to understand the legal process, and take action to be in a better situation. Let us know what you think!

This work was possible thanks to grants from The Legal Education Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust; Cast’s Explore programme and Refugee Action’s Explore programme.


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