If you have determined that your organization is in a position to cover non-RSD rights legal assistance, you will need to conduct needs assessment to develop these services. The type of legal assistance you provide will ultimately depend on the needs of your clients.
There are three ways of doing needs assessment:
- Rights Training
- Client Questionnaires
- Independent Research or Consulting Field Collaborators
Rights training, where participants are also asked to bring up any rights violations they may have experienced, is a productive needs assessment method. Participants have the opportunity to understand their rights and how to assert them, and the organization has an opportunity to learn about participants’ needs. However, only a limited amount of information can be shared and obtained in a day of training. In addition, participants’ frustration may build as they are told what rights they have while the instruments to enforce those rights remain limited.
The intake interview can be used as an opportunity to uncover other rights violations. By adding specific questions about other rights during your intake interview, you may uncover violations that require legal assistance. These questions may be formulated based on your background knowledge of local laws and the local refugee population. Analyzing the results for trends in rights violations may help locate where there is the greatest need for non-RSD rights legal assistance.
This method may either be incorporated into the intake interview or implemented as an independent paper questionnaire. Both will require regular review and analysis. You may need to revise your questions based on evolving trends in rights violations, or create new questions to help you design services. Participants should be aware of the purpose of the questions so they do not develop unrealistic expectations of your ability to provide immediate legal assistance. They should also understand that these questions are optional and will not affect their access to your legal assistance.
Independent Research or Consulting Field Collaborators
Consulting with other organizations already working in the field will help you learn about the needs already identified within the refugee population, and which needs require greater legal assistance. This will also help you learn about their experience working with non-RSD rights legal services, if any. For example, you might learn from their failure to develop a particular legal service and this may consequently help you develop an alternative approach. This will also help you develop strategies that complement other options available to refugees in their local support network.