Improving the lives of refugees

We speak up for refugees

People who seek protection in the UK should be treated fairly and humanely.

Why we support refugees

Right now, around one per cent of the world’s population have been forced to flee their homes.

No one country alone can respond to this humanitarian need. But the UK can and should be a global voice for protecting people’s rights to humane treatment when they flee, wherever they are in the world.

We can set an example at home through the support offered to the small number of people who do seek safety here from war, violence and persecution.

Every year the British Red Cross helps over 30,000 people in the UK, at all stages of the asylum process.

This includes providing food and clothing to 16,000 refugees, and helping to reunite almost 1,000 separated families.

What's wrong?

The asylum system needs reform. There are limited safe ways for people to seek asylum in the UK and more people are waiting over a year for an initial decision on their claim.

Also, too many people are being housed in unsafe accommodation without the support they need.

The British Red Cross is calling for a fairer, more effective and compassionate asylum system:

  1. Safe Routes  – expanding safe ways for people seek protection in the UK and reunite with family through resettlement and family reunion pathways 
  2. Fair decisions – improving asylum decision-making so that decisions  are made quickly and are right the first time 
  3. Safe homes and the right support  providing the right support people need while waiting for an asylum decision, and after a decision, to recover and rebuild their lives. 

Find out more in our policy briefing on refugees and people seeking asylum.

Who's affected?

There are an estimated 132,349 refugees living in the UK.

That’s just 0.16 per cent of the 82.4 million people throughout the world who have been forced to flee their homes. The UK received 26,903 asylum applications in the year ending in March 2021.

Get more information about refugees.

What needs to change?

The government has published their New Plan for Immigration and has passed a Nationality and Borders Bill into law. This proposes to create a system that will treat people seeking asylum differently depending on how they arrived to the UK rather than their protection needs. These changes will lead to a more complicated asylum system where even more people seeking asylum and refugees will face poverty. 

Across the UK, we want to see a fair, effective and efficient asylum system that treats people with respect and dignity.

Our calls to decision makers:

  • Expand safe routes for people to seek protection UK. 
  • Improve asylum decision-making to ensure decisions are made quickly and are right the first time. 
  • Provide the right support to people, at the right time, so they can engage with the asylum system and successfully integrate into society. 

Support our calls

England - contact Jon Featonby:

Scotland - contact Kenneth Watt:

Wales - contact Georgia Marks:

Northern Ireland - contact Stephen Browne:

More about how we stand with refugees