Imagine you arrive in a brand new country, where everything is different from your life before. The language is different and the way people act is often different, like the jokes they laugh at or the food they eat. Imagine, you left behind your friends and family - you were forced to leave your home. You had no choice but you’ve been offered the sanctuary to rebuild your life in the UK.

As you settle into life in the new country there are things you need to know. What do you do if there’s an emergency? How does the health service work? How do you register your children at school? What are the laws that you need to be aware of? How do you get a job and support your family again?

After arriving in the UK many refugees struggle to settle in, adapt and feel at home. Some may have limited language skills and little knowledge of the services available. Often they won’t know anyone that can support them, they can struggle with feeling alone.

That’s why the IRC is helping to support refugees in the UK. We’re working with families to equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive.

Helping Refugees in the UK: The IRC’s Refugee Integration in Southeast England

The IRC’s Refugee Integration in Southeast England (RISE) programme provides newly resettled refugees from Syria and Afghanistan the support they need to navigate life in the UK and become self-sufficient. Through mostly online sessions the IRC helps refugees to understand the British systems better. The programme explains everything from how the NHS works to how to access English classes. The IRC also helps to develop real skills like budgeting and interviewing and shares advice on how to get a job. Through IRC UK activities, refugees can also develop leadership skills, mentoring skills, communication and interpretation skills.

Khalil with his family at the IRC UK's graduation.
“I had some anxieties before because I was wrongly diagnosed by medical doctors. So I wanted to understand ways to overcome this fear and panicking I’d have every time I go to a GP. RISE hosted guests from the health sector both for mental health and the medical department. They helped me overcome my fear and my anxiety.” 38-year-old Khalil now lives in West Sussex after moving to the UK from Syria with his family.

Meet some of the refugees the IRC is helping in the UK

In September the IRC UK hosted graduations for its first cohort of clients who completed the cultural orientation. The events were an opportunity for the RISE clients and staff to come together with their friends and family to celebrate their achievements completing the course.

“We settled here safely and peacefully in this great environment with great people around us.” Refugee client Abdul hopes to work for the NHS. “I graduated as a Doctor and I'm doing some exams to get registered here. So hopefully, after this push from the RISE programme, it's going to be a good achievement after all.”

Abdul Rahaman smiles at the camera.
Abdul lives in Chichester, West Sussex with his parents after they left Syria.

 "The IRC has provided a lot of support,” said Syrian refugee Maasom, who came to the UK with his family when his baby daughter Nasrin needed lifesaving heart surgery.

Maasom, Hiba and Nasrin look out the window together of their home in Hampshire.
Maasom and his wife Hiba were living in a refugee camp in Iraq when they found out their baby daughter needed heart surgery. Luckily they were able to come to the UK to get Nasrin the treatment she needed.

“With the IRC Cultural Orientation Programme, we learned new things we didn't know before,” says Maasom. “We learned about our rights and obligations. We have a better idea of how to book appointments with the GP. How to get a driving licence, how to apply for a job.”

Helping refugees around the world

The IRC works to support refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in over 40 countries around the world. We are there to support from the moment a crisis hits, along the journey to safety and when refugees resettle in new communities. The IRC has a wealth of knowledge and experience in supporting resettled refugees in over 25 locations in the US and Europe.

“We help people to understand how to access services, know their rights and responsibilities, understand British labour market, improve their leadership skills and link with their local communities.” Say’s Emery, RISE project manager. “But we don’t only teach how life in the UK is, we actually make sure our clients are self-sufficient. So that they are able to access their GP services and understand the education system for their children.”

The IRC also works with local communities in the UK to help them be better equipped to support the integration of local refugees by providing training and resources.

How can you help refugees in the UK

Our Donor

This project is part-funded by the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, Making management of migration flows more efficient across the European Union and Khalsa Aid International.

The Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) in the UK is administered by the UK Responsible Authority (UKRA). The funding was allocated under the EU’s 2014 to 2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF), implementation of which will conclude at the end of 2022.

Khalsa Aid International is a UK-based humanitarian relief organisation, providing support worldwide to victims of natural and man-made disasters. Founded in 1999 on the Sikh principle of recognising the whole human race as one, Khalsa Aid has provided crucial humanitarian aid to millions of people around the world through its Emergency Relief Projects and Global Development Programmes.