Project Description

Twelve Winds helped Asylum Aid implement a new organisational structure.


Asylum Aid is an independent, national charity working to secure protection for people seeking refuge in the UK from persecution and human rights abuses abroad by enhancing and extending their legal rights and entitlements.


Following the 2008 recession, subsequent cuts to public services, and the 2013 swingeing cuts to legal aid, the funding environment for charities such as Asylum Aid became increasingly competitive. This situation was exacerbated for Asylum Aid by numerous funding relationships approaching their end, often after more than ten years. When Asylum Aid approached Twelve Winds, the charity was technically insolvent and facing imminent closure due to lack of funds.

Asylum Aid’s Board recognised that the organisation needed to make significant structural changes to turn around the immediate financial situation and prepare the charity for further pressure on income. However, the Board also wanted to ensure that the reorganisation was strategic, and would maintain the charity’s ability to develop new work seek funding, and grow out of the current financially constrained situation.

Twelve Winds was asked to work with the Asylum Aid management team to develop a new organisational structure that ensured the charity could continue to meet its goals within its financial means and retain the ability to grow in the future.

Our approach

Twelve Winds developed a four-phase strategy for creating a new organisational structure for Asylum Aid.

  • Familiarisation

We start every engagement with a familiarisation stage. Using face-to-face interviews with staff, partner organisations, and funders as well as a detailed review of company documents, we built a strong understanding of the challenges that Asylum Aid faced.

  • Make operational cost cuts

Working with Twelve Winds, Asylum Aid management identified and made operational cost cuts that created quick wins and freed up cash flow.

  • Realign the organisation

Twelve Winds proposed a new organisational structure that would ensure the continued delivery of currently funded programmes within budget, while maintaining the organisation’s capacity to grow out of the current situation. This included:

    • People mapping
    • Roles & responsibilities
    • New organisational organogram
    • Job descriptions
  • Manage the change

Twelve Winds supported the Asylum Aid management team throughout the implementation of the restructuring. This included:

    • Project management of change management program
    • Risk management planning
    • Ensure full adherence to all HR and legal standards
    • Develop a clearly articulated case for change
    • Negotiation with Union representatives
    • Consultation with staff concerning the reorganisation
    • Map existing roles to new organisation
    • Ensure appropriate wellbeing support for affected staff
    • Communication of reorganisation to external stakeholders
    • Implementation of role changes
    • Development of new departmental processes and communication plans
    • Development of new key performance indicators
    • Critical systems updates

Success story

With our help, the new organisational structure was implemented with minimal disruption to ongoing programmes.

The focus of the restructuring was on the legal department, which represented more than 75% of organisational costs. All job roles were redesigned. A new management role was created, with clear responsibility for budget management. All fee earner roles were designed with transparent negotiated billing targets to ensure financial sustainability.

Although a significant proportion of job descriptions were changed in order to align to the new structure, there was no need for any involuntary job losses.

The rapid reduction in costs, increase in earned income, and new relationships with funders achieved a significant turnaround. Within 6 months, the charity had returned to solvency. Within a year, the charity’s financial reserves had reached a 30-year high.