Syrian refugees: what you can do to help
This week the Prime Minister announced that the UK will resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees during this Parliament. Here's how you can help.
There are new ways that you or your organisation can help refugees coming to the UK.
Since the Syrian crisis began in 2011, the UK has granted asylum or other forms of leave to almost 5,000 Syrian nationals and their dependants. We also operate three resettlement routes, which bring people who have fled their home country to the UK. One of these, the Gateway programme, has run for 10 years and has resettled almost 6,400 people in that time, aiming to resettle around 750 people a year.
Britain can be proud that we’re one of the only major countries in the world to deliver our commitment to spend 0.7% of our GNI on aid. We’re already the second largest bilateral donor of aid in the world in response to the Syrian conflict. Our help has included providing over 18 million food rations and giving 1.6 million people access to clean water.
On 7 September the Prime Minister announced an expansion of our existing Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme. Through this expansion, we expect to resettle 20,000 Syrians in need of protection during this Parliament. This is in addition to those we resettle under our Gateway and Mandate programmes, and the thousands of people who receive protection in the UK under normal asylum procedures.
We are working closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to identify some of the most vulnerable displaced Syrians and bring them to the UK. This scheme is helping those in the greatest need who cannot be supported effectively in the region by giving them protection and support in the UK. The criteria for acceptance under the scheme will be expanded to ensure more of those in need are resettled.
We have received many generous offers of support from the general public, local authorities, businesses and other organisations. Below is some guidance on how you can help.
I want to make a donation
The best way to help refugees is to donate cash to humanitarian organisations or charities. Cash donations are the fastest, most efficient way to get help to vulnerable people. Please read the Charity Commission’s advice on giving safely.
Cash donations enable relief agencies to cater to the specific needs of the affected population as quickly as possible. They also allow relief agencies to buy goods in the affected region, helping to regenerate the local economy.
Many international organisations are working in the UK, across Europe and in the countries refugees are fleeing from to provide aid and assistance. Recommended and experienced humanitarian and relief agencies that you can support include:
- British Red Cross Appeal
- Save the Children’s Child Refugee Crisis Appeal
- Refugee Council Crisis Appeal
- UNHCR’s Emergency Appeal
- The World Food Programme
- Refugee Action’s Emergency Appeal – the money raised will support refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK
I want to volunteer to help refugees
Several charities and organisations are working with refugees across the UK. To find out more about volunteering opportunities in your area visit:
- the National Council for Voluntary Organisations
- Volunteer Scotland
- Volunteer Wales
- Volunteer Now (Northern Ireland)
I have clothes / books / toys etc that I want to donate
Many charities have been inundated with generous offers of donated goods from members of the public. Because of the logistical challenges in storing and transporting donated items, some can’t accept any donations currently. Check with your local refugee organisations to see what they need.
You can donate items to British Red Cross charity shops. They’ve launched #ShopDrop for Refugee Crisis, where they’ll accept quality clothing, books and unwanted gifts. Money raised from goods donated to the Europe Refugee Crisis will go towards the British Red Cross Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal.
The items won’t go directly to child refugees but the money raised helps charities to support them.
I have a free room in my house
At this point we don’t think there will be a need to host Syrian refugees in homes and we’re not asking people to come forward with offers of a spare bedroom.
Many organisations in the UK operate accommodation hosting projects to help vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees.
NACCOM is a national charity supporting local agencies who provide accommodation to asylum seekers whose applications have been refused.
I have a property that could be used to house refugees
Please contact your local authority. You will probably be redirected to their private sector housing team.
I’m a professional who could help refugees integrate on arrival in the UK
Contact the Refugee Council.
I have a business and have an idea that could help
There are a number of charities and organisations across the UK that are raising awareness and donations to help refugees who have recently arrived and those who are already in the UK. Please contact these charities and organisations directly.
I want to foster a child
At the moment we don’t think the public will need to foster any unaccompanied Syrian children. However, there are lots of unaccompanied children seeking asylum already in the UK who need homes.
You can apply to foster a child through your council if you live in England and Wales.
You can also contact one of these national organisations for fostering advice:
If you’re already a foster carer and would like more training to help meet the specific needs of children in your care, Save the Children might have training opportunities for you.
I’m a local authority and I want to get more information on the scheme and how to participate
Please contact your regional strategic migration partnership via the Local Government Association’s website.
I’m a local authority or school looking for additional training to help build the emotional resilience of children in our care
Save the Children may have training opportunities that you’d be interested in.
Published: 11 September 2015
Updated: 16 November 2015
- added Refugee Council to list of appeals
- added 'Fostering Network' to fostering section
- Added more info on charities and cash donations.
- First published.