Fair and friendly
Presenting the award, Peter Schofield, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Work and Pensions, noted the team’s achievements after being tasked by the National Asylum Intake Unit with overhauling the asylum application process. Appointments are now offered weekly rather than fortnightly, within a seven-day period rather than three to four months, and lasting one hour rather than four to five, all of which has helped to clear the backlog that had been building up.
The Midlands Intake Unit:
- created a simple referral mechanism
- introduced regular stakeholder engagement with clear feedback loops
- improved the consistency and quality of the production of Asylum Registration Cards that allow customers prompt access to services, and
- developed asylum registration for Operation Innerste children, which allows local authorities to quickly access funding.
A Customer Service Excellence (CSE) assessor commented positively on the team’s performance following a visit in early 2019. He specifically commended the team’s method of flexible interviewing ,which allows adjustments for children. The UK Visas and Immigration CSE lead confirmed that “the assessor was positively impressed with our operation at Yarl’s Wood (and so were we!) and there may not be any improvement suggestions from him”.
Duncan Gerrard, a Chief Immigration Officer in the team, credits “seeing that we have made a difference, and knowing that the vulnerable people we come into contact with now receive protection and greater customer service as a result of our process” as a key motivator in his work.
The team put their customers at the heart of the process they designed, treating everyone with dignity and respect throughout. Sarah McGough, a Chief Immigration Officer in the team, felt “shocked, overwhelmed and then extremely humbled” upon hearing the team announced as the category winner.