A message from our Chief Executive Stephen Hale about the coronavirus and Refugee Action’s response.
I am sure this is at the front of all your minds. You will be acutely aware that this virus threatens the most vulnerable in our communities. Refugees and people seeking asylum across Britain very much fall into this category.
We know that you support Refugee Action because you want to welcome people forced to flee their homes and see them rebuild happy lives in the UK. Now more than ever they will be in desperate and immediate need of our help.
Think about who you will rely on as all of this unfolds – friends, family, colleagues, people you know in your community. There are thousands of people in the UK who have been separated from their support networks by war and persecution. We need to step into these roles for them.
Many things about life in the UK as a refugee or person seeking asylum could make them especially vulnerable during this virus outbreak – difficulties in accessing healthcare, being more likely to have pre-existing health conditions and experiencing homelessness or very poor quality housing to name a few. We are being very sensitive and responsive to these realities as we continue to develop our response.
Refugee Action has moved very rapidly to respond to the potentially enormous effects that the coronavirus will have. The wellbeing of refugees, people seeking asylum, our staff and volunteers is our number one consideration. We have been preparing for the practicalities of social distancing and restricted travel for weeks.
We are using translators and interpreters to make sure the families we support understand the latest government advice and information as it develops.
We are moving as much of our support as possible onto telephone and video calls. All of our staff have the equipment they need to offer the same level of support, albeit remotely.
We are listening carefully to expert advice, which will inform all our decisions. We will work with, share information with and speak out alongside partners who share our cause whenever necessary.
It will not be easy. But our expert staff and dedicated supporters give us the strength to carry on doing our job even in the most testing circumstances.
We will identify the best ways to counteract the negative effects of this virus for refugees and people seeking asylum and be in touch soon about what you can do to help.
Let’s be the best we can. Together.