2000s and beyond
In response to the government's proposals to disperse asylum seekers nationally, the Refugee Council opened three new One Stop Services in Ipswich, Birmingham and Leeds, becoming a national organisation with offices in several regions across the UK.
Working with sister agencies, we established the Inter-agency Partnership (now the Asylum Support Partnership) to coordinate support arrangements for asylum seekers nationally. The ASP currently consists of Refugee Council, North of England Refugee Service, Refugee Action, Scottish Refugee Council and Welsh Refugee Council.
- 2004: The Gateway Protection Programme started in March 2004 and was an extension of existing schemes operating around the world under the auspices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Together these schemes resettle around 100,000 recognised refugees every year, allowing people to rebuild their lives safely and securely. The first group of refugees who came to be resettled in the UK were from West and Central Africa. Many had fled the war in Liberia and had been living in West African refugee camps. More recently, Gateway has welcomed Burmese refugees, who had been living in Thai refugee camps and refugees from the conflict in Iraq.
- 2001-2005: Home Secretary David Blunkett announced the scrapping of the voucher system for asylum seekers after a vigorous campaign run by the Refugee Council and other supporters including Oxfam, the Scottish Refugee Council, the Welsh Refugee Council, Refugee Action, Church Action on Poverty, Asylum Rights Campaign and Trades Unions for Refugees.
- 2007: Work Campaign: people seeking asylum are not allowed to work while they wait for a decision on their claim. Nor are they allowed to work if they are not able to return home. The Refugee Council believes this is wrong. Together with the TUC, STAR (Student Action for Refugees) and a host of other organisations, Refugee Council is calling on the government to let asylum seekers work. Allowing people seeking asylum to work would combat destitution, benefit the economy and communities and help integration.
- 2011: 60th Anniversary of the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees and of the Refugee Council. The Refugee Council launches its 'Proud to Protect Refugees' campaign and secures over 10,000 signatories.
- 2011: Own Language Telephone Advice Service (OLTAS) launched providing advice in the main refugee languages and free to call from most mobile networks.