With multiple crises currently affecting the world, more and more people find themselves needing assistance. According to the U.N., 6.1 million people have been forced to flee from Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, with a further 1.5 million people fleeing from Afghanistan since the Taliban take over in 2021. Additionally, climate-related disasters cause people to flee to safer areas. In 2019 alone, 25 million people sought refuge in other countries as a result of weather events, such as fires, floods and droughts.
Refugees fleeing from extreme weather events will become more common as the climate crisis intensifies, according to the U.N. Charities that seek to offer assistance to refugees are essential. The following are charities that are helping refugees in the U.K.
Refugee Action, founded in 1981, is a charity that provides refugees in the U.K. with the basic support that they need to survive. For instance, in 2019-2020 alone, 3,000 refugees were given accommodation and access to financial support. This support ensures that refugees in the U.K. have a stable foundation that they can build on.
Ahmed’s story best exemplifies the work of Refugee Action. After fleeing Egypt in fear for his life, Ahmed was greeted with nothing but a place on the streets. He was homeless, with no hope of securing stable accommodations, due to the Home Office withholding access to identification. Fortunately, Refugee Action was able to intervene and help Ahmed secure long-term accommodation and provide him with official identification, so he could gain stable employment.
Refugee Council was founded in 1951, after the creation of the U.N. refugee convention. It is an organization that not only seeks to support refugees in the U.K. but also campaigns for a fairer and more just asylum system.
Each year, this organization provides several forms of assistance for 13,000 refugees in the U.K. This includes offering to support them while they integrate into their new society, along with supplying aid to children who have arrived without parents. Since the majority of refugees are fleeing from dangerous situations, it is likely that they have experienced some form of trauma. Because of this, Refugee Council offers mental health support to every refugee that they come into contact with.
Additionally, this organization works to highlight and change the inequities in the U.K.’s asylum system. For example, 25% of asylum seekers wait four to six weeks for official documents. These documents enable them to gain official employment or accommodation.
Without these documents, refugees either cannot work or are forced to work in dangerous, low-paid and unregulated jobs. Furthermore, refugees in the U.K. are only permitted to stay in government accommodation for 28 days, so many refugees are forced into homelessness, while they wait for their documents. Refugee Council campaigns to bring an end to this policy, as it causes countless vulnerable refugees to become homeless.
Other campaigning work by this organization includes a successful effort to improve the protections offered to women who are fleeing abusive situations. Before Refugee Council’s campaign, adequate protections were not in place, and female refugees were still left vulnerable to the same kind of abuse that they had fled from.
Young Roots, founded by Rachel Yarrow, Roz Evans and Kathy Brook in 2004, is a charity that works directly with refugees in the U.K. to improve their life chances. This organization employs refugees at all levels to ensure that the charity is driven by people with personal experience of the plight of refugees in the U.K.
Focusing their efforts in Croydon and Brent, Young Roots provided casework services and advice hubs for 873 people in 2019 alone. These services provide refugees with legal support and offer therapy for those who need it.
In addition, Young Roots seeks to increase the confidence of young refugees in the U.K. by offering different classes, such as dance and drama.
Raena, who arrived in the U.K. in 2018, has benefited greatly from these classes. Upon arriving in the U.K., Raena was very shy and was also apprehensive about becoming a part of her new community. Fortunately, Young Roots reached out to her, and she began attending the young women’s group, where she could mix with other young, female refugees. Over time, her confidence grew, so she was now able to volunteer for the organization, offering interview classes for fellow young refugees. This improved Raena’s life chances, as holding the classes imparted her with valuable experience for taking part in interviews to get a job of her own.
While these three organizations are doing fantastic and much-needed work, there is still more to be done. Refugees in the U.K. are an incredibly vulnerable group, and they are only going to become increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.
– Tom Eccles