Will you still be there for refugees?

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22 Jan 2018

Refugees and people seeking asylum count on the support of people like you. People who feel passionately that those fleeing war and persecution deserve to live in safety, and care enough to do something about it. Who make time to write to their MPs, generously give what they can, or organise or participate in fundraising events. Who believe civilised societies have a duty to treat those who are vulnerable and traumatised with respect and dignity.

Whether you have supported Refugee Council’s work for years, or joined us only recently: without you, we would be unable to achieve positive change for refugees. It’s as simple as that.

With your consent

A change in the law affecting most organisations means that charities will need your formal permission to email you in future. The new law – the General Data Protection Regulation – is good news for everyone because it gives us all more control over how organisations use our personal information.

However, if those of us who are passionate about causes we support don’t give our consent before May 2018, many organisations we trust won’t be able to continue to email us.

This means that the Refugee Council won’t be able to continue to keep you updated by email about ways you can support refugees.

This would be a great shame. Because you have achieved so much recently – and will have many more opportunities to make an impact for refugees in the coming months and years.

Winning for lone children

Generous supporters helped us to win a vital legal challenge which has changed unfair government policy towards child refugees. Immigration officials used to have the power to lock up a child in an adult detention centre, because they had decided, just by looking at them, that they were adults – without ever referring them to the experts for an independent assessment. Not anymore – thanks to your support.

This means more children like Ali could find safety in the UK. Ali’s age was disputed after horrific experiences in his native Afghanistan and on his journey to safety. Aged 14, after witnessing the death of his family at the hands of the Taliban, and a trek across the mountains in which several fellow refugees perished, Ali was judged to be an adult by the authorities in the UK and locked up with adults, which was very frightening for him. Refugee Council challenged this decision – and won. Happily, Ali was granted refugee status and can remain safely protected here in the UK for the coming years. Ali says:

“Refugee Council was like my family. Thank you for never letting me feel lonely.”

Ensuring a safe home for Syrian refugees

Without the determination of our supporters, there would be no scheme to resettle some of Syria’s most vulnerable refugees in the UK. You supported our campaign that helped persuade the government to provide safe haven for people fleeing Syria. In 2014, the government initially agreed to resettle a small number of refugees, but this commitment was increased to 20,000 in 2015.

This is a fantastic achievement for people like you who, outraged that so little was being done to help those in desperate need, joined our campaigns again and again to demand change. It has given a lifeline to people who were struggling to survive in makeshift shelters, including torture survivors, women at risk of sexual violence and families with children.

And, with thousands of Syrians still in need, supporters have kept up the pressure on government. Recently, they successfully encouraged MPs from across the political spectrum to voice their support for Britain to offer safe haven to more refugees, during a debate in Parliament about giving more Syrian families safe passage to the UK.

This could enable more Syrians like Alan to find a safe home. During the war, he had an unsuccessful operation which resulted in him losing his leg. But Alan had to sell his house to pay for the operation, leaving him with nothing. Thankfully, Alan was resettled in Leeds. He says:

“I was extremely nervous before coming to the UK, I wasn’t sure we would be accepted. But the people in Leeds, when they see me in my wheelchair, respect me and help me. Leeds is a beautiful city and I love the countryside in Yorkshire”.

Giving refugees a roof over their heads

Generous supporters who made donations helped to fund vital services for newly-recognised refugees who are often left homeless and destitute. Under the current system, their accommodation and financial support is cut off just 28 days after they are granted refugee status.

Jackson from Nigeria had to leave his asylum accommodation within a month of being granted refugee status. At first he stayed at a night shelter but it was frightening, with lots of assaults on residents. So he slept on buses instead, where he felt safer.

A Refugee Council advisor was able to find him a flat. The security of a home paved the way to a job and study towards a PhD in Business Administration. He says:

“Now I’ve got somewhere to live; somewhere to put my bag, somewhere to have a shower. I’m happy and I feel safe”.

Be there for refugees

This couldn’t happen without dedicated people like you. But the struggle for refugee rights is far from over. They will continue to need you in the months and years ahead. In 2018, as well as continuing to campaign to allow refugees in the UK to be reunited with their families, we will be pushing for terms for newly-recognised refugees that won’t leave them at a cliff-edge of homelessness and destitution.

If you want to continue fighting for those fleeing war and persecution, please give your consent to receive emails from us. Without it, we will no longer be able to email you with ways you can take action for refugees.

Together, we’ll continue to work to give refugees a better, safer, happier life in the UK.

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