The Refugee Council and its partner charities, the Scottish Refugee Council, the Welsh Refugee Council and Bryson Care in Northern Ireland, have been awarded a grant of £1.5m by the National Emergencies Trust to provide support for refugees and people seeking asylum until March 2021.
The grant will fund a national freephone Infoline and case work services to support refugees and people seeking asylum who have experienced hardship and mental ill health due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Since lockdown began, the Refugee Council has seen a three-fold increase in destitution referrals, and a 20% increase in specialist mental health referrals. The Scottish Refugee Council’s helpline saw a 140% increase in calls.
The national freephone Infoline will provide advice and signposting on a range of complex issues including: homelessness, destitution, access to welfare benefits, the asylum process, opening bank accounts and accessing health services. The pandemic has made these challenges more prevalent and much harder for refugees and people seeking asylum.
The Refugee Council will deliver additional services in the following areas:
- Specialist mental health counselling and casework support for unaccompanied children and young people in Kent.
- Holistic support for people seeking asylum in temporary hotel accommodation in Leeds, Rotherham and Hull.
- Mental health support for people seeking asylum in Birmingham and London.
The Refugee Council Infoline is due to launch on 1st October.
The Scottish Refugee Council will provide specialist casework support for people seeking asylum who are destitute, and casework support for vulnerable families in the asylum system.
The Welsh Refugee Council will deliver additional advice, casework and advocacy support for people seeking asylum and refugees across Wales, and employability and support accessing education and training for refugees.
In Northern Ireland, Bryson Care will provide tablet computers to people seeking asylum, and mobile internet access in asylum accommodation to enable people to access essential services which are difficult to access during the pandemic.
Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said:
“We are delighted to receive this very substantial and timely National Emergencies Trust grant award. It will enable us to reach out and provide a vital lifeline to many marginalised refugees and people seeking asylum whose vulnerability has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Working closely with our partners in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, we will deliver an emergency Infoline for those needing immediate, practical support; enhance our capacity to assist those in temporary accommodation because of the virus; and extend our provision of specialist, trauma-informed, mental health care for children and adults in the asylum system.
The people who come to us for help are some of the most disadvantaged in our communities, and the least able to cope with the practical and psychological challenges of the pandemic. We’ve seen a significant increase in demand for our services since lockdown began, including a 20% increase in referrals to our specialist mental health services compared to pre-Covid levels, a 140% increase in calls to the Scottish Refugee Council helpline, and the Refugee Council has seen more than a three-fold increase in destitution referrals.”
Mhairi Sharp, Chief Operating Officer, National Emergencies Trust, said:
“With our latest funding allocation, NET is aiming to reach underserved groups that have been heavily impacted by coronavirus. We conducted a detailed gap analysis to review Coronavirus Appeal grants data to-date, as well as funding made available to groups from external sources, to identify key areas of unmet need. This showed an increased impact on refugee and asylum seeker communities – many of whom are unsure where to turn for help.
The consortium led by Refugee Council provides frontline support through services like its emergency Infoline for those needing practical advice. We are proud to be working together to help some of the most in need during this difficult time.”
Notes to Editors:
The Refugee Council, in partnership with Scottish Refugee Council, Welsh Refugee Council and Bryson Care in Northern Ireland, supports refugees and people seeking asylum from the moment they arrive in the UK. These organisations provide crisis advice, plus practical and emotional support for children and adults, and help refugees to integrate into their new communities.
The consortium will use the NET grant funding to deliver an emergency Infoline for refugees and people seeking asylum in need of urgent help. It will also deliver crisis support for those at risk of homelessness and destitution, resources to facilitate digital inclusion, mental health support for adults in the asylum system, and mental health and case work support for unaccompanied children.