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Social Justice

These are the charities helping refugees in the UK

People seeking asylum face a long list of challenges when they arrive in the UK. These refugee charities are fighting to make the system fairer

The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan means thousands of people fleeing danger will look to seek asylum in the UK. Refugee charities warn they, and the thousands like them who already arrived from around the world in the hope of escaping persecution, can often face an uphill battle to build stable lives in a new country.

There were more than 132,000 refugees living in the UK by the end of 2020, according to the UN Refugee Agency, plus more than 77,000 people waiting for decisions to be made on their applications for asylum. 

The UK received the fifth largest number of applications (more than 36,000) in the year ending March 2021. But the number given refugee status is much smaller, and when measured per head of population the UK ranked only 17th in terms of the proportion of asylum seekers looking to find safety. 

Having fled danger and persecution, asylum seekers in the UK are met by the so-called hostile environment, which includes the no recourse to public funds policy. This locks them out of nearly all state support and benefits, while denying them the right to work until the Home Office grants them leave to remain in the country, at which point they are officially recognised as refugees.

Experts warn the upcoming Nationality and Borders Bill will make it even more perilous for people to seek asylum in the UK, as the legislation is set to criminalise those who arrive across the channel by dinghy and those who help people travel to the country for what the government deems illegal reasons.

They may have left behind the danger which initially put them at risk, but life in the UK isn’t easy for refugees and asylum seekers. Here are some refugee charities doing invaluable work to support the people who often find they face more persecution once arriving on British shores.

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Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants challenges UK laws and policies which discriminate against migrants. 

The influential organisation campaigns at both grassroots and national levels, while supporting vulnerable people with legal advice to help them navigate the UK’s complicated asylum system.

You can donate to the charity here, use their simple guides to write to your MPs about the hostile environment, or download the digital toolkit to learn more about the work needed to make the system fairer for migrants.

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Refugee Action

Refugee Action has been fighting for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers since 1981. In 2019/20, the organisation supported 875 people to rebuild their lives in the UK while helping another 3,000 access housing and other essential services.

As well as providing vital advice to people, the organisation is one of the refugee charities playing a key role in resettlement for many families while fighting to end the policies which can leave asylum seekers and refugees in destitution.

You can donate once or set up a rolling donation here.

Safe Passage

Every year unaccompanied children – at risk of abuse and trafficking – who fled danger at home arrive in the UK in their thousands. Safe Passage works across Europe ensuring these children find safety, security and nurturing, with a particular focus on campaigning in the UK. 

The charity has helped nearly 2,000 children to date. You can donate here.

Stop Mass Homelessness

Help us stop mass homelessness

Unless we act, the UK is facing a homelessness crisis 
this autumn.

NACCOM Network

NACCOM, otherwise known as the No Accommodation Network, consists of more than 140 organisations across the UK fighting to end poverty and hardship for refugees, asylum seekers and other people locked out of state support because of their immigration status.

The network campaigns for a “fairer, more humane” immigration system and has a particular focus on the barriers to secure housing for people seeking asylum, from which the organisations believe a person is more likely to be able to escape destitution.

You can donate to the cause here or join the 6,000 volunteers who have already contributed their time to a project.

Refugee Council

The UK’s asylum system is notoriously complex, unyielding and difficult to navigate. It means disadvantaged people can be left without the documentation they need to access housing and support indefinitely. 

Refugee Council campaigns to make the system fairer while working directly with people as they arrive in the UK, providing practical support, counselling and help integrating into their communities. The organisation also makes sure refugees and asylum seekers’ voices are heard, fighting to give them a say in the decisions which impact them.

You can donate once here or set up a rolling donation taken from your monthly pay pre-tax. 

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