The combination of ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ strategies in VSO–government partnerships: the relationship between Refugee Action and the Home Office in the UK

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Derek McGhee
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Claire Bennett University of Southampton, UK

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Sarah Walker University of Oxfordand Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

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In this article we examine the relationship between Refugee Action (a UK non-governmental organisation [NGO] in the refugee and asylum seeker sector) and the Home Office, which funds it to deliver the Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) programme for asylum seekers and irregular migrants in the UK. We explore: (a) the different drivers that exist between the Home Office and Refugee Action, (b) the perceptions of the funder and service deliverer about advocacy, relevance and independence in the context of this state–NGO ‘relationship’ and (c) the themes of dominance, resistance and freedom to look at the contested space between these two organisations. The primary contribution the article makes is to examine the centrality of ‘evidence’ (through service delivery) in both Refugee Action’s ‘insider’ influencing activities as a partner working with the Home Office and its ‘outsider’ strategies in terms of its campaigning and judicial review works versus the Home Office.

Derek McGhee
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Claire Bennett University of Southampton, UK

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Sarah Walker University of Oxfordand Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

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Voluntary Sector Review
An international journal of third sector research, policy and practice