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Majority of refugees and asylum seekers feel welcomed by the average Brit

By June 14, 2010November 1st, 2016Press release

The majority of refugees and asylum seekers feel the average British person welcomes them to Britain, according to a nationwide Ipsos MORI poll.

More than half of the people interviewed said that they either strongly agreed or tended to agree that the average British person welcomes refugees to the UK.

Half of all those interviewed for the survey about life in Britain said they are big admirers of the Queen, half also chose Princess Diana as their most admired Brit, while football hero Beckham attracted 41 per cent of the vote.

Interviewees listed the News as their favourite British programme, with the X-Factor and Eastenders coming in a close second and third place.

The survey, carried out by Ipsos MORI and commissioned by Refugee Action on behalf of the Refugee Week partnership, revealed that what refugees and asylum seekers most enjoy about living in Britain are the British people, football, the multicultural society and British TV.

When asked which characteristics they thought best represented the British, the top answers were friendly, polite and obsessed with football.

More than nine in 10 said they are involved in groups, clubs or organisations in Britain which include religious groups, education programmes, and local community and neighbourhood groups, as well as refugee community organisations.

Refugee Action spoke to Peter Yoak, a refugee from Sudan who lives in Greater Manchester, who said: I find that most British people I meet are welcoming, friendly and polite. Of course you find a couple who are not like that but that is the same everywhere. As a nation though, I think Brits are tolerant and kind.

The Queen is a respected public figure the world over and I am a big admirer of hers. I am also a huge Beckham fan because he is an ambassador for British football, and will lead the countrys campaign for England to host the 2018 World Cup. He is also a good family man.

The poll surveyed 327 refugees and asylum seekers across Great Britain from a range of countries such as Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Afghanistan. It was carried out for Refugee Week (June 14th-20th 2010), a countrywide programme of events including concerts, film screenings, debates and exhibitions that celebrate the UK’s history of providing sanctuary to people fleeing war and human rights abuses.

Jill Roberts, Chief Executive of Refugee Action, said: This is a very positive poll and challenges a number of perceptions of the refugee experience in the UK. It’s clear that whatever issues remain in relation to public policy, the day to day experience of individual asylum seekers is broadly defined by public tolerance and acceptance, not suspicion or hostility. Refugees obviously continue to face significant challenges, but the fact they find British people so welcoming is hugely encouraging.

The poll also shows how much we have in common with refugees and asylum seekers. Whether it is a love of Eastenders or an admiration for David Beckham, we realise we have a lot in common with refugees once when we get to know them.

Almir Koldzic, National Coordinator of Refugee Week, said, Refugee Week is all about discovering the experiences and contributions of refugees. It is also about bringing British and refugee communities together. This year we are running the Simple Acts Campaign, which is about inspiring people to use simple, everyday actions to promote understanding of refugees. Whether it’s watching a film about exile or having a cup of tea with a refugee, Simple Acts suggest that we can all do our little bit to welcome and learn more about refugees.


For more information, photographs and interviews contact
Julia Ravenscroft, Press Officer at Refugee Action, on
0161 8315454/07771 748159 or at

Notes to editors:

  • Organisations that assisted with the poll are:
    Asylum Link, Babies of the World (BOW) Leicester, Bolton Community College, Central Lending Library Leicester, Liverpool Council, Manchester Refugee Support Network, Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum, Pendleton Gateway, Praxis, Rainbow Haven, Refugee Action, Scottish Refugee Council, Students and Refugees Together (START), Trinity Centre, Welsh Refugee Council, Women Asylum Seekers Together London, Women Asylum Seekers Together Manchester, Women for Refugee Women.
  • Refugee Action is an independent, national charity working to enable refugees to build new lives in the UK. We provide practical advice and assistance for newly arrived asylum seekers and support their settlement through community development work. As one of the country’s leading agencies in the field, Refugee Action has 28 years’ experience in pioneering innovative work in partnership with refugees and advised more than 40,000 asylum seekers and refugees last year. For more information, visit
  • Ipsos MORI is one of the largest and best known research companies in the UK and a key part of the Ipsos Group, a leading global research company. With a direct presence in 60 countries our clients benefit from specialist knowledge drawn from our five global practices: public affairs research, advertising testing and tracking, media evaluation, marketing research and consultancy, customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Technical note:

  • Findings are based on a total of 327 interviews, conducted face-to-face using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI). Interviews were conducted by Ipsos MORI between 27 April and 28 May 2010 in 29 centres located throughout Britain that are used by organisations supporting refugees and asylum seekers.
    All respondents were refugees or asylum seekers, aged 16 years or over and at the point of interview, had been in the UK for 3 months or more since making their asylum claim.

    Data are not weighted.