Category: Refugee services

Listen: what if it were your son crossing the Mediterranean?


A couple of Gulawi’s friends took their own lives, after claiming asylum in the UK. He says it was down to their treatment.

Gulawi now has strong feelings on how to make the world a better place – starting with kindness, compassion, and really knowing all the refugee facts.

Here are his thoughts.


Refugees: giving back what they get

© lulu2626

© lulu2626

For Refugee Week, we spoke to Hana and Jamal. They now call the UK their home – and are trying hard to become part of their new community.

Hana and Jamal are proud of their city. They both sing the praises of Bristol for a good half-hour. It’s hard to believe that they’ve only lived here a year.

The pair are clearly delighted with the place that gave them a home, after they had to flee for their lives. Both have big plans for the future and want to give something back.

They just need a little help to get there. More

Watch the moment an electro-pop singer met a Syrian refugee


When Kindness’ Adam Bainbridge met this Syrian refugee for the first time, they both agreed that music was the best way to show people his reasons for fleeing.

Earlier this Refugee Week, we announced some artists were pairing up with refugees for a forthcoming concept album.

To kickstart the project, singer Adam Bainbridge – known as Kindness – recently met Ayman Hirh.

Ayman fled his home country, Syria, when the fighting broke out in 2011. That conflict is still going on four years later. Last year, more people fled Syria than anywhere else in the world.

Pleased to share his experiences, Ayman told us: “Music is a worldwide language that anyone can understand.”

Watch when Kindness met Ayman


Sound and movement: a refugee playlist


Refugee Week celebrates the role of refugees in UK life and culture – and a good place to start is this 12-track playlist.

Refugee Week got off on the right note yesterday, as top musical talent signed on to create an album based on refugee true stories.

Music can be a great way to explore big issues like this – why is why we’ve created a Refugee Week playlist.

Some of these tunes comment on asylum, some don’t. But they’re all great songs that just happen to be by refugee artists.

You can listen to the tracks via YouTube below, or skip to the end of the blog to hear them on Spotify.

K’Naan – Wavin’ flag


United by a slice of cake


Sweets and a red car

Many refugees face a long road to settling into a new country and feeling safe and secure – and often food is a good link to home.

Imagine a birthday without a cake.

There’s a reason we use something sweet to mark big moments or milestones. Think of the tiered wedding cake or the months-in-the-making Christmas pud.

These sugary treats are often a strong link to childhood and home, which is why Free Cakes for Kids helps families who struggle to buy or make them.

The British Red Cross has referred quite a few refugees to the charity – and seen how even something as inconsequential as a cake sponge can help bring a community together. More

Three stories that just had to be told

© Guenter Guni

© Guenter Guni

These journalists want to tell the desperate stories of people who aren’t often heard – which is just one reason why they’re now up for a top media award.

Next week, three shortlisted people will finally find out who has won the Refugee Reporting Award for accurate and fair coverage on asylum.

That makes it sound a bit dry, though. Actually, every report is a gripping piece that raises complex issues in a sensitive way.

When we caught up with the journalists who were up for this award, they all had strong reasons for telling these stories. Read on to find out why and take a look at the entries. More

Art from the past: a child’s eye view on war


Art from the past Bosnian war drawing

Every month, we dust off a piece of art from the British Red Cross collection to give it the attention it deserves. This children’s picture showed that surviving peace could be as hard as surviving a war zone.

The news is full of grisly facts and footage about countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan – but most of us don’t know much about life there. They’re certainly not your average holiday destination.

Because of this, it can be easy to think that refugees flee places that are completely removed from the ones we know and recognise.

But war and exodus can strike on European soil, too. Just two decades ago, violence and ‘ethnic cleansing’ tore apart the former Yugoslavia. Huge numbers of desperate people had to run away to survive.

And when the war was over and many went back to their homes, they saw scenes of devastation and danger – just like this little girl drew in her picture. More

I am the neighbour you’ve never met


Ramellecropped 3

Ramelle is more than a refugee. She’s a graduate. She’s a carer. She’s your friend or neighbour, or someone you pass on the street. And here is the story she’s never told you. 

Not once did I think I’d ever lack food or a place to sleep.

Back home, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I grew up in very good conditions. I went to the best of schools and received the best education.

Despite what others tend to think about Africa, I did not live in the trees. I was not starving or lacking clothes.

I didn’t even know what asylum was until I got to the UK and heard that word for the first time. I just kept telling the Home Office my story, explaining how desperate I was to find my family – urging them to help me.

Homeless and traumatised

People think that we risk our lives to come here for a better life. Just the other week, I had to explain to a colleague that asylum seekers do not run for economic reasons – they are running for safety. Whenever a volatile situation starts in the world, then people will flee.

We are more desperate to save our lives than find money. More