Refugee Action

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Refugee Action

Refugee Action is an independent national charity founded in 1981 that provides advice and support to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and campaigns for a fairer asylum system. It is governed by a Board of Trustees, chaired by Julia Meiklejohn. Its chief executive is Stephen Hale.

Its past work has included the reception and settlement of refugees from Vietnam, Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as evacuees from Montserrat after the Soufrière Hills volcano eruption in 1995.[1] Each year Refugee Action provides advice and practical support to over 10,000 vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees from dozens of countries.

In addition to operating the UNHCR Gateway resettlement programme and a range of specialist services, Refugee Action also runs Choices, the UK's assisted voluntary return (ARV) programme.

Refugee Action has its head office in London and offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester.

Vision and mission[edit]

The foundations of Refugee Action's work are human rights, fairness and equality. Refugee Action believes that every person seeking asylum in the UK should be treated in a fair, legal and dignified manner and that no one seeking asylum in the UK should be left destitute.

In their own words:

"We work with refugees to build new lives. We are there throughout the difficult and complex asylum journey. By empowering people through information and advice we help them to make the right decisions about their future. And we won’t stop until there is an asylum system which treats everyone fairly, respects people’s human rights and leaves no one destitute."

Work and services[edit]

Across England, Refugee Action works to:

Help refugees build new lives in the UK

Provide high quality advice and information to refugees and asylum seekers

Fight against destitution and campaign for better financial support] and housing for refugees

Support refugee women who comprise one-third of asylum seekers

Advise and assist asylum seekers and irregular migrants who are considering voluntary return to return to their home country with dignity

Raise awareness of the plight of refugees and asylum seekers and present a true picture to counter dangerous myths and misinformation spread by the media and others.


Refugee Action campaigns to support the rights of refugees and asylum seekers through raising awareness and influencing UK government policy.

Recent campaigns include:

Bring back dignity to the asylum system by raising support rates (currently 51% of equivalent income support levels)

Support for the resettlement of vulnerable Syrian refugees in the UK

Call for a fairer debate on immigration and asylum, and an end to the harassment and vilification of asylum seekers, including the Home Office "go-home" vans of July 2013.

Supporting the rights of asylum seekers to do voluntary work, while they are waiting for a decision.


Refugee Action works in association with other refugee and human rights organisations, such as the Refugee Council and Amnesty International. It was among the groups that campaigned against section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, later overturned in the courts, which denied financial and housing support to asylum seekers who failed to claim asylum within three days of arrival.[2]

Regugee Action is a member of The Dentention Forum, a network of organisations working together to challenge the UK's use of detention, and has published research on the adverse effects of detention on the mental and physical health of detained asylum seekers.

Refugee Action is also a member organisation of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and the Asylum Support Partnership along with the Refugee Council, Scottish Refugee Council, Welsh Refugee Council, North of England Refugee Service and Northern Refugee Centre.


  1. ^ History, Refugee Action site
  2. ^ Stories of hope and courage, Ella Marshall, The Guardian, January 30, 2008

External links[edit]