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This new report from Migration Exchange (MEX) presents a comprehensive review of the UK refugee and migration sector and independent funding landscape, looking at areas of growth and focus since 2020, with insights on key thematic areas.

The sector in 2023 – key stats

Analysis of Charity Commission data and survey results revealed interesting findings on the size, focus and resources of the sector, including:

  • The refugee and migration sector includes registered charities, other formally constituted not-for-profit organisations, a wide range of voluntary and community-based organisations, and international organisations.
  • There has been an increase of 137 new charities (24%) established between 2020 to 2022 which work on refugee and migration issues.
  • Funding to the sector increased significantly (51%) between 2020 and 2022 – largely due to emergency funding in response to Covid-19. However there are concerns about whether this funding level can and will be sustained.
  • Resources to the sector are heavily concentrated in large organisations. In fact just 3% of charities in the core sector control 44% of the funding.
  • NGOs remain largely dependent on trusts and foundations for funding.

The sector in 2023 – key priorities

Drawing from interviews and consultation workshops, the report presents deeper analysis and suggested actions around six key priority areas:

Adapting to external challenges and crises

Funding for more systematic and strategic collaboration, including horizon scanning, shared funding infrastructure and legal advice, can strengthen our power to go beyond rapid response.

Financial sustainability and funding

By investing more in those doing ground-breaking work where the need is great, independent funders could spread their support more equally. A shared approach to growing the overall funding pot would also help build a solid foundation for the future.

Racial justice, power and lived experience

Real change will only happen when those with power reflect deeply on the lasting impact of colonialism and racial injustice, and start distributing resources differently. Additionally, involving people with lived experience of migration is a vital step towards achieving fundamental, inclusive and collective change.

Employee wellbeing and leadership

By urgently investing in collective care, leadership development, and fair work and pay policies, people will feel safe and protected.

Influencing and campaigning

To prepare for the 2024 General Election, we can benefit from building wider alliances that link frontline expertise with political influence and power.

Alliances and collaboration

Solidarity with people on the move is the bond that connects organisations across our sector. But we need more time and new opportunities to deepen collaborations and broaden our alliances. By pooling our power and expertise we can present a united front on the issues that matter most, and create a better future for everyone.

Migrants and refugees cross borders to live among us for many reasons. Some come fleeing human rights abuses. Some come to join other members of their families. Some come to take up work or study. But when they arrive here they often find that they face new challenges and problems. Some not only rise to these challenges for themselves, they also help others to succeed. The Women on the Move Awards celebrate and promote the contribution that migrant and refugee women, the media and their champions can make towards facing down prejudice and inspiring others.

This year there are four categories of awards. The Woman of the Year and Young Woman of the Year awards celebrate women who, having migrated or fled persecution, provide essential support and inspiring leadership at a grassroots level to others starting a new life in the UK.

The Sue lloyd-Roberts Media Award recognises the outstanding work of a journalist or producer whose reporting has promoted the protection needs of migrant and refugee women. The Champion Award will also be presented to those who work to protect or promote the rights and/or integration needs of UK-based migrant and refugee women.

Find out about previous year’s winners 2012 ,2013 ,20142015  2016.

If you know a woman who deserves to be recognised, nominate her  below.

For more information please contact [email protected].


The New Beginnings Fund was set up by a group of funders, including Barrow Cadbury Trust, to provide support to organisations involved with welcoming and integrating refugees into the UK.   Phase 1 of the Fund completed earlier this year.  Find out about some of the initiatives funded under Phase 1.  The applications for phase 2 of the New Beginnings Fund are now open.  The deadline for submitting an expression of interest form is 30 October 2016.  Please note, that web page will direct you to the relevant Community Foundation website.

For this phase grants will only be awarded in Yorkshire, the East Midlands, the North East, the South West, the South East, the East of England and Cumbria, Staffordshire, Manchester and Cheshire.

The New Beginnings Fund was set up to support small groups. Applicants must meet certain conditions before being awarded a grant. Find out more about the eligibility criteria.  Read the Documents and Policies checklist before you submit an expression of interest.

Questions in the expression of interest form and application form


The blog below was originally published in Alliance Magazine

In September 2015, a group of UK-based foundations and NGOs met at the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to discuss responses to the refugee crisis that was engulfing Europe. The images of Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body on a Turkish beach had jolted many from unease or disbelief to shock, sympathy and compassion.  Although the UK was not experiencing inflows like mainland Europe, there was a groundswell of public support for refugees and positive coverage of an issue all too often mired in controversy.

Some of us thought that there was scope for collective action and the meeting led the establishment of New Beginnings, a pooled fund managed by the UK Community Foundations Network (UKCF). Although both Barrow Cadbury and Paul Hamlyn are strategic, long-term funders in the area of migration we thought it was important to help set up this responsive fund. Firstly, we were hearing that small local groups were over-stretched and overwhelmed by offers to volunteer. Often the first port of call for people who want to engage with this issue and welcome migrants and refugees, these groups were inundated with requests but ill-equipped to harness this new energy and interest.

As long-standing investors in work to understand public attitudes to refugee and migration issues, we were under no illusions that the crisis would lead to a dramatic and positive shift in views. However, this fund seemed opportune given that surveys have found that the public have more positive attitudes to migration in their local area than at national level. There is also extensive evidence to show that meaningful contact with migrants and refugees can be a very powerful experience that shapes how people feel about this issue.

We were also struck by the US experience of building a movement in support of migrants and refugees. There, advocates and their philanthropic partners have found that a healthy immigration movement requires investment in both large and small organisations. The ability of these organisations to engage meaningfully with the public, and not just their core supporters, has proved critical.

With New Beginnings we were motivated by the chance to build on the momentum generated by external events and to help often fragile community groups become more resilient and reach out to newer constituencies. Given its short-term nature, the fund was not designed to fill gaps in service delivery – of which there are many – but to build capacity in engaging local communities in support of their work at a time of great demand. To that end, we are also in the process of developing workshops to enable some of the groups involved to strengthen their approach to communications and to tap into existing networks and reach new supporters.

In May 2016, New Beginnings awarded £506,000 in one year grants to 45 organisations, 39 of which received up to £10,000 and seven partnership projects that were awarded up to £20,000. Typical examples include Restore, a Birmingham based group that has seen massive increases in volunteer befriender requests over the past year. Also supported is Oasis Cardiff Partnership, which will work with new arrivals to help them integrate, partly through sessions organised by volunteers from the local community and also a ‘Friends and Neighbours’ group.

New Beginnings will launch a second round, of a similar size to the first, later this summer. Approaches from foundations or donors interested in contributing would be very welcome. One of the issues we and the other funders and partners hope to address this time round is the paucity of applications from refugee or migrant led organisations. How do we go about reaching these often over-looked and low profile groups that have the potential to make a significant contribution towards long-term change?

In this post-Brexit haze the refugee crisis now seems quite distant. However, the rationale for the fund remains, perhaps even more so now that some of the fault lines and anxieties that existed before the vote have surfaced and have uncovered a tension that risks undermining the UK’s long tradition of welcoming newcomers.

Trusts, foundations and other philanthropists and supporters now more than ever need to demonstrate collective and sustained support for the often unglamorous work of these community groups and the volunteers working with them.

Ayesha Saran is migration programme manager at Barrow Cadbury Trust.
Alex Sutton is senior grants manager at Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

This blog represents the views of the two trusts and not the views of all funders of the New Beginnings Fund.

Foundations contributing to the pooled fund include: Comic Relief; Barrow Cadbury Trust; Paul Hamlyn Foundation; Pears Foundation; Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales; The Rayne Foundation; City of London Corporation; BBC Children in Need and Oak Foundation.

 Zrinka Bralo, Chief Executive of Migrants Organise, blogs about how the Women on the Move Awards give migrant and refugee women a voice


The Women on the Move Awards, a joint venture between Migrants Organise and UNHCR UK, were presented by broadcaster Samira Ahmed at the Royal Festival Hall during the Women of the World Festival to mark International Women’s Day 2016. More than 500 people came to celebrate and recognise migrant and refugee women who often do incredibly important, and yet largely invisible, work in their communities.


Our winners, Mariam Yusuf and Seada Fekadu, made the 2016 Awards a true celebration of resilience and dignity. Seada came to the UK from Eritrea as a minor, on her own, on the back of a truck via Calais. She is about to pass her exams with distinction and is off to university to become a doctor. Seada is mentoring young refugees at Young Roots and speaking up for their rights. Livia Firth presented the Young Woman award to Seada, a living example of what can be achieved when we give young refugees a helping hand, and when our protection system and public services work well.


Journalist Lindsey Hilsum presented the main Award to Mariam, who escaped Somalia and despite struggling with our adversarial system since 2008, has given her time and energy to other women in need at Women Asylum Seekers Together and many other organisations in Manchester.


What makes the achievements and contributions of these incredible women even more remarkable is the fact that neither of them spoke any English when they first arrived, and they are both now role models and leaders, turning their traumatic experiences into kindness and respect toward others. Mariam, who is still destitute and is still stuck in immigration limbo, said after the Awards Ceremony: “I was most honored and felt that I really mattered in society.”


This year we named the media award the Sue Lloyd-Roberts Media Award after a pioneering journalist, herself one of our award winners in 2014, whose legacy of professionalism and whose passion for fair and true reporting will continue to inspire courageous, thoughtful journalism. This year’s winners are Jackie Long and Lee Sorrell for their Channel 4 news piece Inside Yarl’s Wood, which provided undercover evidence of the UK’s dehumanising detention system and helped shift public debate towards more safeguards in detention, including time limits and alternatives to the detention of women.


The Awards also recognise a champion of refugees and migrants in mainstream society. This year, the winner of the Champion Award was Citizens UK, whose grass roots community organising went above and beyond any other civil society organisation, as they responded to the refugee crisis by organising a powerful Refugees Welcome movement around the country, introducing private sponsorship visas as a way for citizens to help provide protection and save lives, and for winning a groundbreaking legal victory to open up safe and legal routes for family reunion rights for refugee children in Calais.


The Women on the Move Awards are growing and opening up spaces for refugee and migrant women to tell their stories of survival contributing to the Southbank Centre’s WOW Festival’s wider audiences and on a bigger stage at the Festival Hall. For that we are very grateful to Jude Kelly, Southbank’s Artistic Director and the founder of the WOW Festival, whose support has been crucial in the growth and development of the Awards. Jude and WOW helped turn our good idea into reality. We are also grateful to the Barrow Cadbury Trust for recognising the importance of changing the narrative by telling the stories of survival and contribution that refugee and migrant women make, and letting them speak for themselves, for justice and dignity, inspiring us all in the process.


A new report ‘Fear and Hope 2016’ from Hope not Hate has been published looking at how England has changed over the last five years, exploring the cultural divides in today’s society.


‘Fear and Hope 2016’ aims to understand how adults across England look at race, religion and identity in modern society, exploring how attitudes amongst different demographics compare.  It also builds upon views and opinions generated from the 2011 ‘Fear and Hope’ report.


Over 4,000 people  aged 18 and over were surveyed by online community organisation Populus, taking into account people’s age, gender, social grade and ethnicity.  Based on the survey findings the report found that:


  • England is a more tolerant and confident multicultural society than five years ago
  • Attitudes towards race, immigration and migration are more positive, due mainly to growing optimism about the economy
  • Almost a third of people surveyed were very positive towards England’s multicultural society (compared to 24% five years ago)
  • The proportion of people who are strongly hostile to immigration and living in a multicultural society has dropped to 8% (compared with 13% five years ago)
  • Immigration attitudes have become more flexible and welcoming, despite record levels of net migration
  • People support the celebration of diversity and making minorities feel welcome, but they oppose the alteration of British laws to accommodate practices and beliefs
  • Muslims are regarded as a uniquely different religious minority, with 43% of English respondents saying they feel Muslims are “completely different to them”
  • There is a growing separation between those who follow a faith and those who don’t. Those who don’t, represent a much higher number than five years ago.


You can read the full report here.

In response to the ongoing refugee crisis a new £525,000 fund has been launched by a number of charitable trusts and foundations, including Barrow Cadbury Trust, to support community groups in the UK welcoming and integrating refugees and asylum seekers into local communities.  Although the UK is receiving fewer new arrivals than many other countries, the year ending June 2015 saw a 10% increase in asylum applications and a dramatic 46% increase in children separated from their families.[1]


The public wave of sympathy in response to the refugee crisis has led to an increase in the number of people looking to volunteer.   One of the aims of this fund is to help groups build their capacity to process these offers of assistance. This is especially important at a time where demand is rising and groups are working with larger numbers of people who have been through traumatic experiences.


The New Beginnings Fund has been contributed to by a number of leading charities including Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Pears Foundation, The Rayne Foundation, Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, and Comic Relief.


The fund will be disbursed through UK Community Foundations’ (UKCF) network of local community foundations.  The application process will be managed across the four nations of the UK by: Community Foundations for Lancashire & Merseyside, Community Foundation in Wales, Community Foundation Northern Ireland, Foundation Scotland, Heart of England Community Foundation, Kent Community Foundation and London Community Foundation.


The fund is aimed at small, local groups.  Those groups with an income of less than £250,000 will be prioritised. Applications for up to £10,000 will be considered but, in exceptional circumstances, grants for up to £20,000 will be awarded for collaborative bids involving multiple local partners.


The funding can be used for new or existing activities that involve local communities in welcoming and supporting new arrivals. A key view of this fund is that early integration helps dispel tensions and prevent misconceptions within local communities. Applications from projects which emphasise the value of integration and work with communities to become stronger and more connected, encouraging refugees and asylum seekers to make an active contribution and engage positively, will be welcome.


If other organisations are interested in contributing to the New Beginnings Fund, they should contact UKCF for further information.


Applications can be submitted up to 29 March 2016 following a six week application window. Application forms can be found on the UK Community Foundations Website as well as on the website of each participating community foundation.


[1] Home Office National Statistics: Asylum


Jessica Kennedy of the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum celebrates  the legacy of the Women on the Move Awards


On Thursday 6th March, 260 people gathered at the Southbank Centre to celebrate the achievements of inspirational women from refugee and migrant communities. The Women on the Move Awards, part of the WOW Festival and supported by Barrow Cadbury Trust are held to recognise the outstanding contributions that refugee women make to empowering and integrating their communities.  My organisation – The Forum – co-hosts the Awards alongside Migrants Rights Network and UNHCR.


The Awards are more than just a one night event, and aim to make an ongoing and lasting difference to the winners and their communities. The women gain recognition for, and raise the profile of, their work.  In addition, a fellowship provides access to high quality leadership development and help to build a network of exceptional women and the organisations they work with.


A month after the awards, as the dust has settled and the plaudits die down, what has changed?




Lilian Seenoi, who founded the only migrant forum in Derry-Londonderry from her kitchen table, won the Women of the Year Award for her work to ensure migrants and refugees can access support. The North-West Migrants Forum brings together diverse migrant groups and local communities which have suffered years of tension. The Awards have catapulted Lilian onto an international stage – she has just come back from Brussels, where she contributed to a public debate at the European Union on practical steps to challenge the poor treatment of migrants in Greece. She is shortly to fly to Turin, Italy, to take part in a European-wide project to tackle hate speech, before another visit to Brussels. All that before running a festival in June to bring together communities building on Derry-Londonderry’s place as UK City of Culture in 2013.


International attention also followed Tatiana Garavito, winner of the Young Woman of the Year Award for her tireless and determined work with the Latin American community in London. El Espectador, a mainstream newspaper in Colombia, published an article about Tatiana.  A short film commissioned by the Women on the Move Awards about Tatiana’s work will be shown at a documentary film festival in Colombia.  After the Awards Tatiana said they were “an amazing opportunity for us migrant women to show the world what we can achieve given a fair chance”.


Those who attended the Awards also found powerful connections. My personal highlight of the night was seeing, in the crush of the after-party, members of a collective of domestic workers connecting with a woman who works with Lilian and the North-West Migrants Forum and is trying to tackle exploitative labour practices in Northern Ireland. This fledgling relationship is continuing and already leading to mutual support, learning and, ultimately, stronger and more effective organisations.




Although the Awards receive little coverage from major news organisations, the winners and their organisations gain interest from a variety of other sources. Diana Nammi, who founded the Iranian-Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) as a reaction to ‘honour’ killing and violence, was given special recognition for her tireless work. On the night, IKWRO’s twitter followers notably increased.  All our winners have been inundated with requests for interviews and articles.


Films that Women on the Move made about the Award winners have reached 5,561 viewers – spreading these courageous stories even further. As organisers, we are so glad to see how the Awards create a platform for extraordinary women to shout about their own and their organisations’ great work.  Tatiana was able to highlight the invisibility of the Latin American community in London: “with this [attention], the whole community get the recognition that we are campaigning for”.




Perhaps most important, the women tell me, is an improvement in their confidence. Standing on stage as an Award winner, being celebrated for your work and able to share your story from a place of strength, can have a huge personal impact. From what we already know about these courageous and determined women, the only way from here is up.


We also know this is just the start of working relationships that benefit us all. As Diana, one of the award-winners, said after the ceremony, “it has been a huge pleasure – and I hope this will be a start for partnership work for the future”. The Forum hopes the Awards continue to impact throughout the year and look forward to seeing all our supporters – and more extraordinary women – in 2015! There may be only one day to celebrate international women, but Women on the Move are changing lives everyday.


Asylum Aid today publishes its new report ‘Dividing Lines: Asylum, the media and some reasons for (cautious) optimism’.


Dividing Lines looks back at ten years of hostile media coverage of asylum and refugee issues, and asks how we might move onto a more positive and progressive public debate. Asylum Aid argues that “with the quantity of hostile stories falling away, and heat coming out of the way asylum is covered in the media, it is time to work more closely and cannily with journalists and editors than ever before”.


Follow the link to the ‘Dividing Lines: Asylum, the media and some reasons for (cautious) optimism’ report

In our final l post work of the Refugee and Migrant Centre (RMC) in Wolverhampton, we look at some of the complex social and welfare issues that RMC advisers assist with every day. Some of the names have been changed.


Securing a place at school

RMC helped Rose to complete the application for admitting her child to the local school. It is very difficult for clients with little English to discriminate between very important and less important letters from their child’s school. Rose always brought any letters from school to RMC so that she was sure she fully understood them. When she moved to another area we assisted her in appealing the decision not to allow the child to move schools. Later Rose was obliged to return to her home country for several months and we contacted Wolverhampton Council to inform them that the child would be travelling abroad for a protracted period of time.

An adviser and client at the RMC (not those featured in these case studies)

An adviser and client at the RMC (not those featured in these case studies

Housing debt while coping with cancer

Our client was in debt with rent arrears with their housing provider, who had contracted out collection of the debt to a private company. The debt collectors demanded that he pay each month over the phone. Because the client couldn’t speak English he had to travel to RMC each time so that an adviser could assist him.


He found the journey difficult as he was suffering from cancer, and he was being harassed by the debt collectors knocking on his door continuously. An RMC adviser contacted housing provider and explained the situation. The housing provider retrieved the debt collection from the private company and allowed the client to make payments by direct debit, which was a huge relief to the client.