Hackney Migrant Centre opened in April 2008 after it was identified by several sources that there was a need for an advice and support service in Hackney and the local area. Some of these sources include: Hackney Refugee and Migrant Support Group, that has for some years been in contact with, and informally supporting, destitute individuals in need of health access, legal advice and practical support, City and Hackney Primary Care Trust (PCT) that was concerned about asylum seekers failing to access health services, particularly in the light of ambiguities and confusion about their eligibility, Hackney Community Law Centre's immigration and welfare rights advice services who have been seriously oversubscribed for some time, and North London Action for the Homeless and the Hackney Winter Night Shelter have also identified a number of destitute migrants and refugees in need of practical assistance. Despite a large number of refugee community organisations in the area, until the establishment of Hackney Migrant Centre, there was no single service offering professional advice and support to migrants regardless of their nationality or immigration status.
Hackney Migrant Centre Aims
- To provide advice and assistance to migrants on immigration, welfare or health issues
- To offer a welcoming environment to migrants and help reduce social isolation
- To publicise issues relating to migrants' social and economic circumstances
Read our latest annual report here
Our Advice Service
The advice services are provided through partnership arrangements with visiting professionals from various advice agencies.
We have a number of specifically funded projects with partner agencies which enhance our work. Trust for London funds our specialist immigration project with Islington Law Centre and the Big Lottery Fund, funds our Moving Out of Hardship project, which is a joint project with Haringey Migrant Support Centre and Coram Children's Legal Centre.
Specialist immigration project with Islington Law Centre (ILC):
The project aims to assist migrants with insecure immigration status to gain access to their rights and entitlements under the law and resolve their immigration problems by obtaining leave to remain. The project provides specialist immigration advice and representation to vulnerable migrants whose cases no longer qualify for legal aid (assistance to people who otherwise would be unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system). It is a pilot project designed to combat the effects of legal aid cuts and explore new ways of partnership working.
Each week, ILC sends an immigration advisor to HMC’s Wednesday drop-in to give advice to approximately 5-6 visitors (service users). Some of this will be one-off advice, but often leads to a referral to other agencies or solicitors, or follow-up work by our volunteers.
In some cases, the ILC advisors will take on the case and offer full representation. These are cases which they deem likely to succeed but where the visitor would not be able to find alternative representation. Often, where they cannot take on a case entirely, they offer further advice to allow self representation. HMC also works on the cases alongside the ILC advisors to offer support with issues including housing, welfare, health and financial assistance to provide a holistic package of support.
Read more about our joint immigration project with Islington Law Centre here
Moving out of hardship project:
In June 2016, following funding from the Big Lottery Fund we established “Moving out of Hardship” - a project to support vulnerable migrants in London. This is a joint project between Hackney Migrant Centre (HMC), Haringey Migrant Support Centre (HMSC) and Coram Children’s Legal Centre, Migrant Children's Project (CCLC) designed to assist vulnerable migrant families and young people in London with immigration status issues to access the advice and support needed to improve their situation.
The overarching aim of our project is to try to tackle the root causes of why our visitors present to us in crisis situations, which mostly relate to our project beneficiaries’ immigration status; either because they don’t have a secure immigration status e.g. are refused asylum seekers, visa overstayers, are undocumented, or are the children of parents with this status, or because they have acquired limited leave to remain but with the condition of No Recourse to Public Funds attached to their stay, which means that they can work but cannot access housing or most benefits. In such situations, the only support available if they become destitute is Section 17 support provided by social services under the Children’s Act 1989.
Our main focus is to enable our project beneficiaries to secure an immigration status that enables them to access work, housing, benefits, NHS services etc as well as addressing their short terms needs. In order to assist our beneficiaries in the longer term, we try to provide information and understanding of future issues that might arise and how these can be planned for to avoid future destitution. We also try to address a range of other issues our visitors might face, in a holistic way, to try to improve their mental health, well-being and to create a safe and welcoming space for so many people who have been ostracized by society.
The main work of the project has been undertaken by the two new staff members we recruited in June 2016 - Jessica Evans, Immigration Solicitor at CCLC (Solicitor), and Giulia Gosi, the Caseworker for Migrant Families and Young People (Caseworker) employed by Hackney Migrant Centre. Both Jessica and Giulia are employed to work two days a week at HMSC and two days at HMC. For the remainder of this report, both Jessica and Giulia will be referred to as the advice team.
The advice team provides outreach advice at HMC and HMSC and does initial assessments and follow-up casework. Along with two centre managers from HMC and HMSC the project has also delivered a number of training sessions, information sessions and shared learning through attendance at a range of forums and meetings. Where possible, learning from the project has also been included in policy responses and consultations and disseminated to other relevant projects.
Hackney Migrant Centre Activities
- Weekly drop-in for advice and social activities
- Free immigration and welfare advice
- Medical advice and help in accessing NHS health services
- A nutritious meal
Many different services refer migrants to our drop-in. We don't offer appointments as we are a drop-in and operate on a first come, first serve basis. Therefore, you can simply direct people to us.
Alternatively, you can call our centre manager, Daf Viney (tel: 07504332706) or email
firstname.lastname@example.org to inform us that you are directing someone to our service or to find out more about what we could offer the individual.
If a visitor has limited English and is unable to bring a friend/family member to interpret, we will try to book an interpreter but we require advance notice that the individual will be accessing the service.
If you are a professional and are interested in visiting the service to obtain a clearer idea about the service we offer, please contact our manager to discuss this.
Our work is funded by the Big Lottery Fund