Olivia Long

Asylum seekers and the NHS: are hostile policies damaging services?

Luna Williams, IAS, writes about the hardships faced by those attempting to claim asylum in the UK.


In 1948, the NHS was founded as an ethical body; a public health service which doesn’t discriminate and offers support for any person no matter what their wealth, class or background. Unfortunately, over the last decade, a combination of budget cuts and hostile immigration policies have caused the NHS to compromise these ethics and forced it into a position in which it must discriminate in order to stay afloat.


According to a report which was released by the Observer earlier this year, at least three-quarters of NHS trusts hired private debt collector firms over the past three years to deal with the debts of destitute asylum-seekers. 8,468 patient debts were referred, according to the report, between the years of 2016 and 2018. Members of the firms were found to use tactics such as intimidating phone calls, doorstep visits and, in some cases, property possession. Despite this, only 7% of the unpaid debts were recovered, making these tactics not only unethical, but also unnecessary. This behaviour was despite guidelines issued by the Department of Health and Social Care, stating that NHS trusts are allowed to write off unpaid patient debts if it is “clear that a person is destitute or genuinely without funds”.


This is yet another sign of a UK service-provider being confused by hostile policies. A report by the Joint Committee for Welfare for Immigrants (JCWI) found that after the introduction of the Right to Rent Scheme – which encouraged landlords to discriminate against those who might be ‘illegal’ immigrants – caused a huge spike in discriminatory decision-making. According to the report, 43% of landlords said they would be less likely to rent to a tenant who didn’t have British citizenship, while a shocking 27% said they would be less willing to negotiate with anyone who had a “foreign-sounding” name or accent.


The Right to Rent Scheme was introduced alongside many other Government procedures which encouraged service-providers to act as border control officers, as part of the larger “hostile environment policy”. This policy was introduced initially to make the UK as unwelcoming as possible for ‘illegal’ immigrants, in the hope that they may “voluntarily leave”. As is seen in the case of the Right to Rent Scheme, many elements of the policy ultimately resulted in mass-discrimination, which affected the lives of genuine asylum-seekers, refugees and settled migrants across the UK. The policy was ultimately ended after the Windrush scandal – which saw hundreds of settled Windrush citizens and their families harassed and deported after their paperwork had been lost by the Home Office – but still seems to be continuing to impact and confuse the decisions made by various service-providers, employers and individuals in the UK today.


As in the case of many landlords, the blame cannot be placed on the NHS itself for such issues. The NHS has received various budget cuts over the last decade and is struggling to stay afloat: according to the Institute For Fiscal Studies (IFS), the public health sector’s budget has been cut by 40% over the last eight years. As a result of these cuts, NHS trusts are evidently having to compromise their ethics in order to make ends meet.


Nonetheless, doctors have come forward to argue that discriminative procedures aimed at asylum-seekers and vulnerable migrants go against their professional and personal ethics. In one particular case, which took place in January, an Eritrean asylum-seeker was refused urgent cancer treatment by an NHS trust because he was unable to produce the correct paperwork. Doctors claim that circumstances like this force them to compromise their Hippocratic Oath: “to treat the ill to the best of your ability”.


Equally, paediatricians have voiced their feelings on policies which mean they must refuse care to individuals who are unable to produce documents to show they are eligible or pay upfront. With at least 120,000 undocumented migrant children in the UK (many of whom are victims of human trafficking), the refusal of health services causes major barriers in allowing them to reach the correct authorities and ultimately be healthy and safe.


It should not be up to the NHS to make decisions on the welfare and safety of asylum-seekers. Instead, the Government needs to clarify its stance on immigration policies and schemes in order to ensure that the NHS can retain its fundamental ethics of universality.


This article has been written by Luna Williams, political correspondent at the Immigration Advice Service; an organisation of immigration lawyers who give free legal advice and support to asylum seekers.

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7 ways climate change affects refugees


1. Almost every second, someone is displaced by the effects of climate change or natural disaster.


41 people a minute are forced from their homes by extreme weather events. Floods, storms, heatwaves and drought will continue to worsen as temperatures rise, affecting people all over the world.


2. By 2050, there could be as many as one billion people displaced by rising temperatures.



Chris Madden climate change refugees


3. People fleeing climate change do not have the same legal rights as people fleeing war or persecution.


There is not currently adequate protection in international law for people fleeing the effects of climate change. They are “climate refugees”, but the refugee protection regime hasn’t yet been extended to cover them.


4. Those already displaced by violence, conflict or poverty are more vulnerable to secondary displacement as a result of climate change.


These people, who already have little choice over where they end up living, often reside in climate change ‘hotspots’ which expose them to secondary displacement.





5. By 2100, melting ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica could lead to a rise in sea level of almost two metres.


This would affect lower-lying cities in the US such as New York, flooding people’s homes and forcing them to move elsewhere.


6. Also by 2100, sea levels in Bangladesh’s coastal region are predicted to rise by as much as a metre.


This alone would displace 31.5 million people.


7. Rising temperatures could make places like Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar uninhabitable by 2071, leaving thousands of people with no choice but to flee.







Climate change is the most urgent threat of our time. People shouldn’t be forced to flee their homes because we are failing to stop its effects, but they are. We are the last generation that can act to prevent this.

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Home Office profits £2 million a month from child citizenship fees

It has been revealed that the Home Office is charging fees so expensive for child citizenship applications that parents are being driven in to debt as they try to gather the funds to cover the costs.


The findings of a Freedom of Information request by charity Citizens UK show that the Home Office makes £2 million a month from these fees, amounting to £24 million a year (or £71,429 a day). It is estimated that 40,000 children in the UK are affected.


According to The Independent, the cost of a citizenship application for a child is £1,012. The cost of processing an application is £372. This means the Home Office is making a profit of roughly £640 per child application it receives. All the fees are non-refundable, so are not returned if an application fails.  


It’s incredibly difficult for many families in the UK to afford these prices without having to cut costs on other things. Some parents are being driven in to debt or overwork, and others are even being forced to skip meals to save money.


Also this week David Bolt, the UK’s Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, released a report on the Home Office’s mechanisms for charging for services in relation to asylum and immigration.


Bolt recommended that the Home Office take a closer look at the effects of such high fees on “vulnerable individuals, including children”, and “demonstrate that it has fully considered these effects in determining fee levels, annual increases, the availability of waivers, and refunds”. He reported that “a number of people [he spoke to within his research] were clearly distressed by the effect the fees had had on them or their family or friends”.


Without proper, legal documentation such as a passport, many children who have grown up in the UK are unable to progress to university should they want to, or even to secure full-time work. This will have an incredibly negative impact on them in later life, making it difficult for them to fulfill their potential and contribute to society in the ways in which they’d like to. Through these fees the Home Office is excluding thousands of children from society on the basis that their parents do not earn a high enough income.

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Is the EU funding forced labour in Eritrea?

The EU has denied claims from Eritrean human rights activists that it is funding a scheme in Eritrea which uses forced labour.


It has pledged to spend £17m in Eritrea as part of its Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, a scheme which aims to curb “irregular migration” by supporting programmes creating jobs in various African countries. This £17m will be spent on improving Eritrea’s road network.


The problem with these road network improvements, though, is that National Service recruits will be used. At present there is an official requirement in Eritrea for people – once they reach the age of 18 and before they turn 40 – to carry out national service. This used to be for a period of 18 months per person, but since the end of the country’s civil war with Ethiopia in 2000 the period has been extended indefinitely.


According to Human Rights Watch, the majority of able-bodied adult Eritreans are currently partaking in “indefinite, compulsory” active national service. A fact-finding mission report published in 2008 by the European Parliament Committee on Development similarly indicated that military service “often extends over decades”. People have compared it to modern day slavery, reporting torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest, a lack of basic sanitation and hygiene provisions and forced labour on farms, in mines or on construction sites for less than US$60 a month.


Because of this, thousands of people – particularly those in their final year of high school – have fled Eritrea in the past few years to claim asylum elsewhere. According to Amnesty International, forced conscription has “robbed the country’s youth of their dreams, creating a generation of refugees… Eritrean youth have only two life options: undertake the compulsory, indefinite national service in conditions that amount to forced labour, or flee the country, risking their lives in search of a better life overseas.” 


Last year in the UK alone, 2,158 people from Eritrea submitted applications for asylum. In 2017, Eritrea was the top country of origin for unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the UK. 


A spokesperson for the EU said in an email to the BBC that the EU does not support indefinite national service in Eritrea. If it goes ahead with plans to fund this road network improvement programme, though, it will be doing just that. As demonstrated, to support indefinite national service in Eritrea is to support forced labour in Eritrea.


FHRE is threatening to sue the EU, warning in a letter that it will take the organisation to court for violating its own Charter of Fundamental Rights if it does not withdraw from the road-building project.

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Out in the cold: How the UK fails those who seek safety from abroad

Emma Taylor, IAS, writes about the hardships faced by those attempting to claim asylum in the UK.


Virtually all countries agree that it is a universal human right to seek asylum across international borders if we feel unsafe to remain in – or return to – our home country. Persecution, war and conflict are just some of the reasons men, women and children are forced to appeal to another country for their safety. The UK government has a duty within international law to protect people who are too afraid to leave the country under a range of circumstances. For many, though, it is a struggle to secure this protection.


Those who claim asylum in the UK are allowed leave to remain here while they make a case of evidence to the Home Office about their worries and fears. The majority of claimants, who would be homeless and without recourse to funds otherwise, are housed and provided with a minimal income of just £37.75 a week. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work or access other benefits while their claim is considered. However, they are able to access the NHS and children are able to enrol in education.


Some claimants are eligible to work after 12 months, although they are restricted to take a position listed on the UK Shortage Occupation List which numbers specialist surgeons, ballet dancers and neuroscientists among many, many other highly specialised and diverse vocations. This essentially bars the vast majority of asylum seekers from working, resulting in many living in limbo while their stories are heard and their claim is processed. Often struggling, asylum seekers are ‘othered’ and marginalised within UK communities.


Asylum seekers fortunate enough to be granted Refugee Status by the Home Office will go through a life-changing process – although not without stress. Asylum seekers may have fled war, societal threats, political turmoil or perhaps even persecution from their own families. While in the UK, they are in an unfamiliar country, attempting to communicate in an unacquainted language and are ready to restart their lives again.


Yet the process of securing a National Insurance Number, a bank account, finding a permanent home and accessing employment is far from easy – especially in such a tight turnaround: the weekly allowance the Government provides ends after 28 days once leave has been granted. Those who cannot rapidly bound back fall through the cracks. It is evident that the increasingly high hurdles asylum seekers face would put the mental health and resilience of any individual to the test.


For others, however, they do not get such a ‘straightforward’ outcome. If their claim is initially

rejected, the asylum seeker either loses their right to remain or may appeal to the tribunal hearing. To do so, they must provide evidence that the Home Office did not understand or acknowledge their claim fully. Tribunals act independently to either reinforce or overturn the Home Office’s decision. Fortunately, asylum seekers’ rejected claims are increasingly becoming challenged with higher success rates: 75% of Home Office initial decisions were rejected by independent judges in 2018, which is a rise from the 52% in 2017. Although this shows appeal by Tribunal is improving for asylum seekers, the Government ought to be getting it right the first time. The data is clear: the ‘hostile environment’ the Government designed to deter migrants from coming to the UK is leading to many genuine claims being rejected.


The process to claim asylum is complex – for many, it results in homelessness if they are not properly safeguarded. The Government must receive the appeal decision from a rejected person within 14 days. Unless there are dependent children involved, a new application for weekly allowance and temporary housing must then be made by the rejected applicant while their tribunal is awaited.


If this complicated process is misunderstood, or delayed; or if grounds for appeal are not evidenced to satisfaction within the strict timescale, then many genuine claimants become unable to access the support they are entitled to. Many have become homeless, falling farther away from the means to scramble back to stability and entering a newly desperate state of destitution – all because they missed the 14-day turnaround.


International human rights law protects those who are genuinely in fear for their lives, and it is also right that checks and balances exist to make sure this right is not exploited. The Home Office does have a difficult and sensitive task to do.


Yet the numbers simply do not add up – the UK is clearly falling short in its duty of care to people who seek our help in good faith. No asylum seeker should fall homeless or destitute because of unfairly bureaucratic procedures, a ‘go home’ culture or a lack of support for individuals to understand the labyrinthine experience of claiming their right to safety.


The cost of human misery, mental and emotional turmoil for asylum seekers is high enough. We must ask ourselves if a more compassionate approach is possible, and will certainly find, without having to look much further than our city streets, that the UK’s commitment towards protecting fellow human beings is sadly, woefully inadequate.


Emma is a content writer for the UK’s leading Immigration Advice Service (IAS). IAS is an organisation of immigration solicitors offering free legal advice asylum seekers and to victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking. https://iasservices.org.uk/ & @IASimmigration

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Yemen conflict enters fifth year

On March 26th, fighting in Yemen – which has resulted in what is now accepted to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis – entered its fifth year. This week MPs have called for an end to UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia, while the UN has continued talks with Yemen’s government and its Houthi opposition in the hope of salvaging a crucial truce deal.


In 2018 alone, 30,000 people lost their lives as a result of ongoing conflict in Yemen. Thousands of others have been displaced across the country; others still are suffering from starvation and malnutrition. Despite all this, the UK is continuing to supply arms to one of the main parties in the conflict, Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Arabia is the UK’s biggest arms customer. Since bombings in Yemen began in 2015, the British government has authorised the sale of £4.6 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, despite overwhelming evidence of repeated Saudi breaches of international humanitarian law in Yemen which have led to the deaths of thousands. The Government has even publicly acknowledged that UK-made arms have been used by Saudi Arabia in the conflict, but sales have not been stopped and strikes continue.


This week, on the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the conflict in Yemen, five opposition parties finally called on the UK to end its weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. In a joint letter to foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt, MPs from Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, the Green party and Plaid Cymru requested that all arms sales to Saudi Arabia be stopped while an independent investigation is carried out in to Saudi actions in Yemen. They wrote:


“It is morally reprehensible that the UK government is not only not considering changing its policy, but is actively lobbying other foreign governments, as it did with Germany, to resume arms sales to Saudi”.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, told the UN’s Human Rights Council this week that since December of last year, it is estimated that eight children have been killed or injured in Yemen every day. For as long as we continue to sell arms to those involved in the conflict, we are complicit in these children’s deaths and the deaths of so many others.

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The human cost of keeping refugees out of Europe

Recent footage from inside detention camps in Libya shows people being forced to live in abysmal conditions. Frequently locked in dark rooms and denied food, water and medication, some are reportedly resorting to drinking toilet water to survive. On top of this, there have been disturbing accounts of torture and abuse at the hands of people traffickers.


The people in these camps are being held indefinitely and against their will. Most of them were intercepted and arrested by the Libyan coastguard as they attempted to cross in to European waters in the Mediterranean Sea, a process which is receiving full support from the EU (via a deal of tens of millions of euros between Italy and the Libyan coastguard) as a way of outsourcing control over people migrating to European countries.


It is true, as EU leaders claim, that numbers of arrivals on the shores of Europe are dropping, but what these leaders fail to mention is that this is not because fewer people are making the journey in the first place. This is because these people – men, women, unaccompanied children, entire families – are instead being stopped in Libya and subjected to unbearable treatment for months on end. In the two years that have passed since the EU-Libya deal was agreed, refugees and migrants have been dying in Libya as a direct result of EU policy.


Channel 4 has produced this ten-minute piece with footage obtained from people who have managed to hide mobile phones in their cells. Please be aware that the video does contain distressing content.


Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have publicly condemned the conditions in Libya, and last month many major international organisations published an open letter criticising EU leaders for their inaction in the face of such a tragedy.


Writing secretly to Sally Hayden for the Guardian, an Eritrean man imprisoned in one of the detention centres makes this plea:


“It is hard to talk about this life. I am losing hope. Please share this to the world and tell [them] our problems before many lives are gone.”

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Why are Iranian people risking their lives to reach the UK?

Zena Belhalfaoui, Help Refugees volunteer in Calais.


Namdar Baghaei-Yazdi still remembers the warm welcome he received in the UK when he and his family fled the revolution in Iran forty years ago, in 1979. They were forced to flee after his father was executed by a newly-formed Iranian government.


“We came here and we were very much welcomed”, Namdar says, describing how back then Home Office officials would meet the family at their local refugee centre, rather than make them travel all the way to their official offices.

This welcome couldn’t be more at odds with the Home Office’s now hostile response to people fleeing war and persecution, exemplified in Sajid Javid’s recent labelling of the very small rise in the number of boats crossing the Channel as a ‘major incident’.

Since this declaration, the Home Office has been unlawfully deporting people to Calais without adequately assessing their asylum claims. The aim: to deter asylum seekers attempting or planning to attempt the journey to the UK.

We want to take a moment to debunk the hate-fueled narrative surrounding Iranian refugees coming to the UK from Calais, by explaining why these people flee their homes and why they have a right to claim asylum where they choose.


Why are people fleeing Iran?


The 1979 Iranian Revolution installed a new, ultra conservative dictatorship in the country. Since then, human rights violations there have been well-documented and all too commonplace.

Executions continue to occur frequently, particularly for drugs-related offenses. 273 were reported in 2018, the second-highest in the world last year. Iran’s judiciary is also targeting journalists, online media activists and human rights defenders in an ongoing crackdown on the freedom of speech, in blatant disregard of international and domestic legal standards.

Iran ranks as the 18th worst country in the world for freedom of expression. As a result, scores of human rights defenders and political activists remain behind bars for their peaceful activism, with little idea of when or if they will be freed. Laws surrounding notions of modesty, morality and public decency are also incredibly strict: just this week a young couple was arrested after a video clip of their public marriage proposal went viral. The justification for the arrest provided by Iranian authorities was that the proposal contravened the country’s “religious and cultural values”.


People protest in 2017 in support of Soheil Arabi, a prominent political prisoner.


Why are they claiming asylum in the UK?


In reality, an incredibly small proportion of displaced people from Iran claim asylum in the UK each year. In 2018, 500 people attempted to cross the channel in small vessels. So far in 2019, this figure stands at just over 130.

In the media, people attempting the crossing have been vilified and labelled ‘illegal immigrants’. Their claims to asylum have been rejected before they have even been made.

Sajid Javid publicly questioned whether the people in these boats were genuine asylum seekers, completely ignoring their legal, human right to proper assessment. Before speaking to them, before listening and understanding each of their stories, a decision had been made: one entrenched in hostility and one which contravenes international law.

If we look at recent asylum statistics for the year ended September 2018, 47% of all asylum claims by people from Iran were accepted. Of those rejected, 46% won on appeal. This means that roughly three-quarters of all people from Iran are granted refugee status.

For the reasons listed above, and looking at the acception rate in the UK, it’s clear that the huge majority of people fleeing Iran do so because their lives are at risk.


But why the UK?


Again, a very small minority are trying to claim asylum in the UK. For the most part, people have little choice in where they seek asylum. In the cases where people do have some degree of choice, it is primarily based on language, colonial links between their home country and the new country, having family or friends in the new country, or a belief that the new country is safe, tolerant and democratic.

Refugees are under no obligation to claim asylum in the first country they reach. Given this, the chances are that the large majority of Iranian asylum seekers attempting the crossing would be granted refugee status. The UK is a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention, and must start adhering to it to ensure that these people are given the protection they deserve.


How should the Home Secretary respond?


The Home Office is adamant that asylum seekers entering illegally must be deported quickly in order to deter others from making a similar journey. In so doing, though, we are neglecting our international duty – not to mention our legal and moral responsibility – to protect the rights of those who have been displaced.


The plea to the British Home Secretary is this: give people hope. Respect their human rights and don’t push them further into the margins of society. Don’t use the recent boats crossing the Channel as an excuse to clamp down hard on innocent people. Don’t pander to the divisive rhetoric prevalent in so much of the British press.


We need strong leaders willing to work on real solutions, who are ready to cooperate with groups and governments to protect people from exploitation and abuse. Let’s transform the hostile environment into the hospitable environment and work together to give sanctuary to those in need.

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“Right to rent” checks ruled discriminatory

Last week, the High Court ruled that ‘Right to Rent’ checks – implemented in the UK under the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ policy as a way of preventing irregular migrants renting homes – have been causing racial and nationality-based discrimination on the part of landlords against prospective tenants.


Such discrimination, the judge ruled in response to a challenge from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, breaches the European Convention on Human Rights. He declared that the government has acted outside the limits of human rights law and that to extend the scheme beyond England in to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be irrational and unlawful.


Representatives of the Home Office attempted to argue that a) such discrimination is not happening on the large scale that is being suggested, and b) that even if it is happening it is the fault of the landlords, not of the Home Office itself. This argument was rejected by the judge, who said that if the scheme had not been put in place landlords would not have felt it necessary to discriminate in this way:


It is my view that the scheme introduced by the government does not merely provide the occasion or opportunity for private landlords to discriminate but causes them to do so where otherwise they would not… the Government cannot wash its hands of responsibility for the discrimination which is taking place by asserting that such discrimination is carried out by landlords acting contrary to the intention of the Scheme”.

– Mr Justice Martin Spencer 


The ruling has been celebrated by civil society rights groups and asylum-seeking individuals across the UK, but unfortunately the Home Office has been granted permission to appeal the decision, arguing that it cannot be blamed for the actions of individual landlords. With no system of monitoring and evaluation in place from the government for the scheme itself, though, it is difficult to see how Home Office representatives will be able to prove this, and we sincerely hope that the appeal is an unsuccessful one.


The Government’s hostile environment policy has made claiming asylum in the UK a miserable process. When it was introduced in 2012-13, Theresa May described one of its key principles as being to “deport first and hear appeals later”, setting a bleak scene for the approach towards asylum seekers in the years that have followed. The UK is now one of the most unwelcoming countries in which to claim asylum. The number of people being granted refugee status is dropping year on year (most recent statistics can be viewed here), and Sajid Javid’s public statements about people crossing the Channel in boats – not to mention his response to the recent case of Shamima Begum – serve as a demonstration of the hostile and insular direction in which our politicians want to take us.


We cannot let such attitudes continue to govern our response to people in need of protection and support. We welcome last week’s decision on the ‘right to rent’ checks and look forward to supporting all future efforts towards ensuring it is not overturned.

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Help Refugees – open call for funding applications

Help Refugees is delighted to announce the Spring “Choose Love” Pot: an open call for small grant applications.


The Spring ‘Choose Love’ Pot opens March 1st and will close March 31st, 2019.

What is the Spring ‘Choose Love’ Pot?

Through the Spring ‘Choose Love’ Pot, we aim to support grassroots refugee support groups operating in Europe (including the UK!) and the Middle East. Unfortunately the Pot is not available to organisations based in the Americas.

The Spring ‘Choose Love’ Pot can be used to fund work in any humanitarian sector. We will not be able to fund any political activities.

Though our primary aim is to support people who have been displaced including refugees, asylum-seekers, internally-displaced persons and local communities affected by migration, we understand the intersectionality of displacement and hope to reflect this through our funding. We have funded organisations working with people who are homeless, for example (in the UK this can often include those who have been displaced and now find themselves without accommodation), and are open to receiving applications from similar groups.

Who can apply?

Through the Spring ‘Choose Love’ Pot, we aim to support grassroots groups operating in Europe and the Middle East.

Help Refugees does not, as a rule, fund large International Non-Government Organisations (INGOs). We exist to support and celebrate small teams of dedicated people.

Where possible, we work with local organisations. We firmly believe in supporting a local response from affected communities, displaced and local people alike. If you are an international group, the more local staff or volunteers you have, the more sustainable you are.

More information about the Pot:

❤ Successful applicants will receive a one-off grant of up to 10,000 GBP.
❤ The submission period for applications is 1st to 31st March 2019.
❤ We will get back to you by Friday 17th May 2019.
❤ We will respond to every applicant, but unfortunately are unable to provide detailed feedback on every proposal that is not accepted.
❤ If your application is shortlisted, we will 1) contact you to ask any immediate questions about the application and to let you know we’ll be contacting your referees; 2) arrange a call to talk about your work further; 3) come and visit you to see the work in person.
❤ For those shortlisted, we will request an updated financial report, an impact report, details of your governance and reporting processes.
❤ In the grant agreement we will ask for full narrative and financial reporting, including photographs and case studies.

How to apply:

Please download and fill out this form, then email projects@helprefugees.org with the title ‘Spring Choose Love Pot Application’.


  • My group has already received funding from Help Refugees. Can we still apply?
    Yes, we’re happy for existing or past partners to apply for this grant.
  • Can the grant make up part of a larger overall budget?
    Yes, however we will need to know exactly which aspect of the budget it will be used for.
  • Can I apply to retrospectively fill a gap in our funding?
    No, the Spring ‘Choose Love’ Pot cannot be used to cover past gaps.
  • Can the grant be used to cover ‘core’ or operational costs?
    Yes, we’re happy to support these costs.
  • Will you be able to offer support with reporting, if we need it?
    Yes, we will be happy to help on this front.
  • Who can I contact to ask further questions?
    You can reach us at projects@helprefugees.org with any questions we haven’t answered. Please bear in mind that we are a small team and may take a few days to get back to you.
  • Which projects will you not fund?
    – We are not able to fund projects working inside Syria at this time.
    – Significant asset purchases (e.g. land).
    – Generally theatrical productions and art-based projects.
    – Funding is also not available for student expeditions, schools, councils, volunteer-tourism projects, academic studies, sponsored activities (e.g. walks, runs, challenges etc), fundraising initiatives, or event sponsorship. Similarly, events and parades will also not be considered.
    – Film production will not be considered.
    – Finally, we cannot fund businesses or social enterprises.

The submission period for applications is 1st to 31st March 2019.

Who are Help Refugees?

Help Refugees was founded in 2015 by a group of friends who wanted to help. When we arrived in Calais with a van full of donations and a load of cash, there were no formal actors to hand it over to. Together with a huge number of amazing volunteers, and in partnership with French charity l’Auberge des Migrants, we rented and set up a warehouse and distribution system. By continuing to fundraise back home, we were able to financially support a lot of the grassroots groups operating in ‘the Jungle’ camp in Calais – and started to hear about the needs further east along the European migration routes. We are now a team of 10 in London, with 4 field staff, working in 11 different countries, supporting 80 local and grassroots projects across all sectors.

Our work spans emergency response, long-term and inclusive solutions, and advocacy. We operate inclusively, supporting local and ‘host’ communities as well as newer residents.

Everything we do is motivated by our core values of dignity, hope, respect and humanity.

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