Critical support for refugees and asylum seekers

Without the right social, financial, legal and cultural support services, many people struggle to access legal services, find adequate social and emotional support and integrate into their local communities.

Islamic Relief are providing crucial support to empower these populations to ensure that men, women and children from refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant backgrounds can lead independent, happy, safe and fulfilling lives here in the UK.

REFUGEE ACTION: FAMILIES UNITED   

We’re uniting refugee families across the UK.

For people seeking asylum in the UK, accessing services can be incredibly challenging due to a range of bureaucratic, financial and linguistic barriers. With a new environment and often a new language, adjusting to a new country is challenging.

Asylum-seekers in the UK often have little or no access to financial assistance other than asylum support and are given limited time to find accommodation upon being granted permanent status. Life can therefore be incredibly emotionally, financially and socially draining.

At Islamic Relief UK, in partnership with Refugee Action, we’ve been enabling children seeking asylum who have been reunited with their families in the UK to access critical support. For children separated from their families, this project offers a crucial lifeline.

The project offers key immigration advice and practical support, working to ensure that children seeking asylum have their essential needs met to live safely and to be able to rebuild their lives here in the UK.

Dedicated advice and assistance covers homelessness support, interpreting services, immigration and integration support through the provision of opportunities to network and socialise.

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GIVE A GIFT: TACKLING SOCIAL ISOLATION

We’re supporting the charity Give a Gift in partnership with Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (PAFRAS) to run a weekly drop-in service for refugees, asylum-seekers and vulnerable communities in Leeds

PAFRAS provides food, temporary accommodation and critical emotional support, including a safe place to socialise and interact with others from similar backgrounds, helping individuals to leave behind trauma and emotional stress.

Also in partnership with Give a Gift, we’re supporting homeless asylum seekers and refugees, providing practical advice and a weekly social activity group at a local community café. Here, homeless asylum-seekers and refugees have a safe space to share their experiences and find a listening ear. This is critical in reducing social isolation and improving the mental health of these vulnerable people.

COVENTRY REFUGEE AND MIGRANT CENTRE: BACK TO WORK


Graduating from the work programme.

We’re supporting the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC) in their latest partnership with the West Midlands Police and Fire Services and Coventry City Council which strives to help people from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities in and around Coventry who are out of work.

Offering first-hand information and work experience in a variety of roles, their project enables participants to:

  • Undertake a 12-week work experience placement in local public services job roles
  • Get involved in tasks such as:  making telephone calls to victims of crime, undertaking questionnaires in the community, helping to run the office
  • Take part in induction sessions to familiarise themselves with the local Public Sector including visiting a fire station and learning about how local councils supports communities
  • Attend training workshops in a range of areas including emergency first aid and conflict management

As a result of the programme and inclusive one-to-one dedicated mentoring sessions, we’re helping members of the BAMER communities in and around Coventry to in find work and gain further qualifications to improve their future professional and economic prospects.

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THE BIKE PROJECT: WORK & TRANSPORT FOR REFUGEES


Fixing bikes to be donated to refugees and asylum-seekers.

Government legislation prohibits individuals seeking asylum in the UK from working. UK-based asylum seekers instead receive financial support whilst their cases are being processed. However, after their transport costs are deducted, some are left with as little as £2 a day to cover the cost of food and other expenditure.

This is why we supported The Bike Project, an innovative project which works to provide financial assistance to asylum seekers living in London.

The project runs weekly volunteering sessions where several refugees volunteer regularly to:

  • Help fix bikes for other refugees and provide asylum seekers with bicycles
  • Support refugees to learn new skills to find work later on
  • Create a warm inclusive atmosphere where they are treated with dignity and respect

The project has also launched a hugely successful project to teach refugee women to cycle and put together a specific children’s programme to address the complex needs of refugee children.

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THE CHILDREN’S SOCIETY: HELPING CHILDREN AT RISK OF DESTITUTION

In partnership with The Children’s Society, we’ve helped reduce the number of asylum-seeking children and young people at risk of destitution.

We‘ve helped vulnerable young people and their families to find critical and safe accommodation, financial support and social services assistance by providing:

  • Advocacy and Referral Support: Appointment-based advocacy and legal advice casework helping families to understand their rights and entitlements in the UK
  • Immigration Drop In: The Free Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner weekly immigration drop-in service provides crucial advice and signposting support
  • Meet and Greet: Weekly meet-and-greet sessions offer social and recreational activities for children

The project has also raised crucial awareness around the needs of families with no access to public funds by contributing to relevant statutory service reviews and campaigning around the issues of destitution.

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BRITISH REFUGEE COUNCIL: TRAFFICKED CHILDREN

Vulnerable children are trafficked across Africa, Asia and Europe into the UK.

In 2019 alone, a staggering 4,550 children were trafficked to the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labour and criminal activity such as begging, transporting drugs, cultivating cannabis, selling pirated DVDs and bag theft.

With little knowledge of their rights, sources of support, these children struggle to gain legal assistance to stay in the UK and remain safe and secure. To support such victims of child trafficking in London, we teamed up with the British Refugee Council to support their work with children when they’re most vulnerable – when they have just escaped their traffickers.

The Trafficked Children Project worked by:

  • Recognising children as victims of trafficking – removing them from immediate danger
  • Ensuring they have the appropriate and safe accommodation and care – working to prevent them from being re-found/returned to traffickers

With an in-depth understanding of the legal entitlements and processes around trafficking, immigration, and local authority care – and years of experience working with vulnerable children – the Refugee Council are able to provide a vital ‘interpretation service’ between the child and the professionals responsible for their wellbeing.

Accompanying children to crucial appointments with Home Office officials, social workers, police and solicitors, the project helped remove children from harm and provide them with the services they are legally entitled to.

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BRITISH REFUGEE COUNCIL: REFUGEE ADVICE

We’ve been helping refugees settle into their new lives here in the UK.

After waiting for anything from months to years for the outcome of their case, newly recognised refugees are given an immediate 28 day notice period for the termination of their Home Office support and accommodation. That means they only have one month to find a home and a job before they stop receiving any financial support.

Language barriers, combined with a lack of understanding of rights, systems, and processes, make this procedure incredibly complex and overwhelming.

The absence of support networks mean that newly recognised refugees often face homelessness and financial destitution.

At Islamic Relief, we partnered with The British Refugee Council to support their Refugee Advice Project. We helped newly granted refugees in London to make the crucial and challenging first steps to integrating in the UK by:

  • Providing advice and support in accessing welfare support
  • Finding accommodation
  • Addressing ongoing health issues

This is crucial as asylum seekers are not entitled access to medical care and many cannot access services without linguistic and practical assistance.

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