10 things you didn't know about our work with refugees and people seeking asylum
Seeking asylum in the UK can be traumatic – but we are here to help
It’s pretty simple: we believe that #EveryRefugeeMatters and should feel safe and live with dignity. That’s why we work so hard to reunite families, help young people settle into life in the UK, and demand a fairer asylum system.
Read on to find out more about what that looks like and learn more refugee facts, not fiction.
Last updated 5 September 2023
1. We are there for people when they need us most
We have a long tradition of helping refugees and people seeking asylum after they escape from conflict and persecution, and today we remain the largest single provider of support for refugees in the UK. There are an estimated 118,995 refugees living by our side, and we aim to give care and comfort to every person that needs it.
2. Our refugee centres help people living in poverty
When people seeking asylum in the UK arrive, they are not allowed to work and thousands can find access to government support difficult. With no income and nowhere else to turn, many people rely on the 58 Red Cross refugee centres across the UK. Here, they can find a warm welcome, essential supplies and guidance.
3. We help refugee families find their feet
Arriving in the UK can be an overwhelming and scary experience for families, so we help with the basics like food and clothes. In 2019, we delivered over 17,000 food parcels and over 1,000 packs of baby supplies to families who may have been lost without them. We also help families get to grips with their new surroundings, and take on admin tasks like helping register children in schools and at the doctors.
4. We bring families back together
Some refugees who escape crises end up being separated from their families. We help people reunite with their loved ones in the UK by helping with visa applications and arranging flights where appropriate. In 2019, we reunited 3,000 people. Read about the pain one father experienced being separated from his family for three years, before they were finally reunited by the Red Cross.
5. We were still helping during the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic plunged the world into crisis, but refugees and people seeking asylum still needed our help. The pandemic created extra challenges, but our hardworking teams were able to overcome them and continue to support those who needed our help. Learn about Faridun and his family, who were forced to leave Afghanistan and were reunited at the height of the first lockdown in 2020 after four years apart.
6. Our translators help people settle in
When refugees and people seeking asylum arrive in the UK, many do not speak English. We provide a translator to reassure them and make sure their needs are met. What’s more, our new project employs some refugees to teach others. And our website is accessible in different languages, too.
7. We help young people decide what to do next
Many young refugees and people seeking asylum arrive in the UK alone, and many are vulnerable. Working alongside the Refugee Council, our Surviving to Thriving project provides 11-25 year olds with life skills, guidance and mental health advice to help them adapt to life in the UK.
8. We speak up for a fairer asylum system
When people arrive in the UK asking for help, we want to see a fair, effective and efficient asylum system that treats people with respect and dignity. As one of the UK’s leading charities, we use our voice to call on UK decision-makers to provide sanctuary, financial support and legal advice.
9. Our research spotlights how people suffer in detention centres
The UK is the only European country which has no time limit on how long someone can be detained for, and it can take years for the Home Office to decide if people will be allowed to stay in the UK. Our report Never Truly Free offers a first-hand perspective on the harm caused by detention. We use it as evidence to support our call for asylum reform.
10. All of our services rely on the kindness of volunteers
All around the UK, our volunteers advise refugees and people seeking asylum on how to get access to healthcare, justice, integration and education. Whoever you are, whatever your skills, you can share your kindness by volunteering with our refugee services and restoring family links team. We have roles based all over the UK if you want to get involved – just search our volunteer database.
Every refugee matters to us
We work with refugees and people seeking asylum to help them feel safe, live with dignity and build a new life. If, like us, you believe that every refugee matters, get involved by donating below.Donate
Learn more about refugees and people seeking asylum
There are a lot of misconceptions about why men, women and children risk their lives to cross the Channel in the hopes of finding safety in the UK. Here are five facts about it
One simple change could benefit the UK economy by seven million pounds a year