The Refugee Council is a charitable organisation based in the UK that works with asylum seekers and refugees, providing them with advice and support. The charity also provides support and advice to other relevant organisations within the UK, working in partnership with entities such as Refugee Action, Welsh Refugee Council, Scottish Refugee Council, Northern Refugee Centre, North of England Refugee Service and the British Red Cross. You can learn more about the services provided by the British Red Cross in the PDF attachment to this post.
The Refugee Council has been supporting refugees in the UK since 1951 and works with thousands of refugees directly each year. In his work as a senior advertising executive, Ajab Samrai has championed many charitable causes over the years, including a campaign for the Refugee Council. The charity is the only one of its type that is able to offer direct support to children and young people who arrive alone as refugees in the UK.
Beginnings and Early History
The Refugee Council as it is today is the result of two other enterprises merging in 1981, when the Standing Conference on Refugees and the British Council for Aid to Refugees came together to form what was initially called the British Refugee Council.
SCOR and BCAR were both founded in 1951 after World War II, in response to the United Nation’s Convention for Refugees. This convention was created to ensure displaced refugees were able to find safety in countries other than their own in the aftermath of global war.
The Refugee Convention acts as an international agreement for governing how refugees in Europe are treated. The remit of the Convention was further extended to the rest of the world through the 1967 Protocol and there are 147 signatory countries.
Championing Refugee Rights
One of the key areas of focus for the Refugee Council is championing the rights of refugees in the UK. Much of government policy and guidance at present is unsympathetic to the plight of refugees and the rules can be unfair and complex to navigate. This results in people who are already traumatised and vulnerable being subjected to more needless suffering.
The Refugee Council has in-depth knowledge of the needs of refugees and asylum seekers and a thorough understanding of the challenges they face once they arrive in the UK. The Refugee Council researches emerging issues – and analyses data and information gleaned from working with people who access the charity’s services – to advise on policy and make recommendations for a fairer and more effective system. The Refugee Council also works to raise awareness among the public across the UK, through timely campaigns such as the one designed by Ajab Samrai in 2005.
Working with Children and Young People
As the only UK refugee charity to work directly with children and young people, the Refugee Council provides a range of support for some of the most vulnerable people entering the UK. The charity works with children who have been trafficked and other young people finding themselves alone in a strange country. Support services include mental health therapy, help with care arrangements, health and educational support, and more.
In 2018 alone, Refugee Council provided support for 3,261 unaccompanied children arriving in the UK, including 105 children who had been trafficked. Many of these children are now beginning to rebuild their lives after witnessing and enduring horrors that no child should ever have to experience.
You can find out how to help the work of the Refugee Council by watching the short video attachment to this post.