Things you didn't know about our work with people seeking asylum

At almost every moment of every day, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams are working to protect and restore dignity to people, wherever they are on the migration journey.

People seeking asylum are #NotAlone

Across the globe, people who migrate or are displaced from their homes face unacceptable risks. But people on the move are not alone in their journeys.

Whether at land or sea, the work of the International Federation of the Red Cross network  - including the British Red Cross - aims to save lives, reduce risks and provide access to essential services.

There every step of the way

Find out how we're working to protect the safety, dignity and rights of people on the move through our partnership with the IFRC and other national societies.

And read on for things you didn't know about our work with refugees.

Duration of video: 01:35

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 were an estimated 231,597 refugees living by our side in 2022, and more today. 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.

Read about the pain one father experienced being separated from his family for three years, before they were finally reunited. 

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.

Read about Faridun and his family, who were forced to leave Afghanistan and were reunited at the height of the first lockdown 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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, search our volunteer database.

Help us support refugees

Refugees have experienced the worst challenges in life - but together, we can show the very best of humankind. Please help us continue our vital work in the UK, and around the world.


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