The Refugee Council

BLOG SERIES: Perspectives on the pandemic

More than a year on from the launch of the National Emergencies Trust’s Coronavirus Appeal on 18 March 2020, we have asked our incredible funding partners – and some of their incredible grant-making partners – to share their unique perspectives on the pandemic.


The Refugee Council

by Tomasz Glinski, National Project Manager

During the coronavirus pandemic, people seeking asylum and refugees have struggled to access the services that they need to stay safe, well, warm and dry during the coronavirus pandemic.


People seeking asylum need specialist services to address homelessness, extreme poverty, legal and health needs. Often they do not have access to appropriate housing, are unable to socially distance or observe hygiene measures, and have no means to buy food, cleaning products, or other essentials.


Funding from the National Emergencies Trust enabled us to respond quickly to acute needs of people seeking asylum and refugees during the pandemic, adapting our services to offer an essential lifeline when they needed it most across the UK, with our partners in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.


During this period, we have seen a significant rise in the number of refugees and people seeking asylum contacting us for support to address mental health problems and domestic abuse they are experiencing, and many more children who arrived in the UK alone after fleeing war, terror, and abuse.


Our services ensured that people seeking asylum could live with safely and in dignity. In Yorkshire we supported isolated people seeking asylum living in poor quality hotel accommodation to access clothing, food, healthcare, and legal advice. In London, our Age Disputes and Care Leavers Projects enabled vulnerable young people to access quality advice and legal representation.


In England, Scotland, and Wales we provided an Infoline, a Freephone service for people seeking asylum to resolve their most common issues from financial support to homelessness. In Northern Ireland, people were able to access vital services through the provision of tablets and devices; digital inclusion is an ongoing challenge.


The National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal funding strengthened the coordination of UK-wide refugee services and advocacy on systemic issues impacting on their safety, dignity and health. The project enabled us to work closely with frontline partners across the UK to identify people’s needs, connect them with local services, and identifying gaps in provision.