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"The chance to escape
violence and start again in
the UK is what's made the
life I've had possible."

Shappi Khorsandi, Comedian


Shappi fled Iran as a child

“One of my earliest memories is riding on a bicycle through Tehran in the 1970s, on my uncle’s lap at dawn, to get chocolate milk. But I grew up in the UK, not Iran, because the reaction to my dad’s political satire and poetry had led to public calls for him to be killed.   

“As a comedian myself I know what it’s like for a joke not to go down too well, but my dad’s commentary on the oppressive regime had made staying in Iran impossible for my family.   

“When I was a child, I thought I could write a letter to the Ayatollah saying Dad didn’t mean to upset him. 

“Sadly, like mine, millions of families worldwide are forced to flee their homes and seek refugee status. Every human shares the right to seek sanctuary, but many find that arriving in Britain doesn’t necessarily mean their search for safety and stability is over.”

After finding safety in the UK as a refugee early in her life, Shappi went on to become one of UK’s most popular comedians and a best-selling author.

She wants to see other people who were forced to flee their homes given a chance to flourish in Britain.

Listen to the appeal (less than 3 minutes)

The UK asylum system is in crisis

2021, 2022 and 2023 have been filled with uncertainty for all of us.

But imagine having to navigate last year whilst struggling with a language barrier, dealing with the trauma of fleeing war or persecution, and being demonised just for trying to find safety.

This has been the reality for many refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK.

"I will never stop being a refugee. Your support can extend to someone like Zama the chance that finding safety in the UK gave me." - Shappi Khorsandi


Zama fled her home in Southern Africa to escape abuse.

“My parents died when I was child. I spent my life trying to find somewhere safe. I was abused and raped many times.”

She hoped to find that safety in the UK. But the asylum process is punishing to those in it.

“It didn’t feel like anyone cared about what I had been through.”

Zama has health conditions and spent years without medical support. She relied on over-the-counter medication to help her pain.

Last year Zama’s troubles intensified when her application for asylum accommodation was rejected.

“I was told I needed to shield because of my conditions. I had nowhere to go. I was scared for my life.”

Thanks to our supporters, Refugee Action advocated on Zama’s behalf, and provided her with emergency essentials. She was eventually provided with a safe place to live.

“This is my first home and now I sleep safely. I’ve never been this happy in my life.”

"I was told I needed to shield because of my conditions. I had nowhere to go. I was scared for my life." - Zama

The people we work with have seen the very worst of humanity.

Together, we have the chance to show them the best.

…could provide essentials such as clothes, blankets and food to a person seeking asylum.

…could help someone secure emergency accommodation, so they don’t end up homeless on the streets.

…could fund sessions with an asylum crisis caseworker, supporting people to navigate the asylum system.